'NICE' Recommends Acupuncture Treatments
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or 'NICE' for short, is the arm of the National Health Service that evaluates the most up to date evidence regarding healthcare technologies and clinical practise, with the aim of assessing the efficacy, cost-effectiveness and safety of a given treatment for specific diseases. Nice currently recommends acupuncture as a treatment modality in three areas of health:
- Tension type headaches
- Chronic pain (both primary and secondary)
Acupuncture for Tension Type HeadachesTension type headaches are the most common form of headache. The symptoms can vary from person to person, but often include pain on the sides, top and/or back of the head, feelings of pressure or tightness, and tender areas that are painful to touch. The causes are varied but can often include stress, fatigue, diet or insomnia. NICE recommends a course of acupuncture treatments as prophylaxis (prevention) for tension type headaches:
"Consider a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5 to 8 weeks for the prophylactic treatment of chronic tension‑type headache."
Acupuncture for MigrainesMigraines can be a very debilitating form of headache, with severe symptoms that can include intense pains in the head (often on one side), eye pain, visual disturbance, photophobia, dizziness, and nausea. NICE recommends a course of acupuncture treatments as prophylaxis (prevention) for migraines
"If both topiramate and propranolol are unsuitable or ineffective, consider a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5 to 8 weeks according to the person's preference, comorbidities and risk of adverse events. "
Acupuncture for Chronic PainChronic pain is also know as 'long-term' or persistent pain. It is defined as a pain that lasts for more than 3 months. Pain can caused by underlying conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, arthritis or menstrual syndromes - this is known as 'Secondary Pain'. Chronic pain can also be primary. Chronic primary pain has no clear underlying condition or the pain (or its impact) appears to be out of proportion to any observable injury or disease. NICE recommends a course of acupuncture treatments in the treatment of both Primary and Secondary chronic pain:
"Consider a single course of acupuncture or dry needling, within a traditional Chinese or Western acupuncture system, for people aged 16 years and over to manage chronic primary pain, but only if the course:Feel free to contact us if you'd like to know more about acupuncture and the way in which it might be able to help you.
- is delivered in a community setting and
- is delivered by a band 7 (equivalent or lower) healthcare professional with appropriate training and
- is made up of no more than 5 hours of healthcare professional time (the number and length of sessions can be adapted within these boundaries) or
- is delivered by another healthcare professional with appropriate training and/or in another setting for equivalent or lower cost."