Can I have still have acupuncture if I’m being treated for the same problem by my GP?
Can I have acupuncture treatment if I’m being treated for the same problem by my GP? It’s a question I get asked quite a lot and it shows that there’s still a lot we acupuncturists need to do to help people to understand their care options.
The short answer is that yes, it’s perfectly safe – and in many cases advantageous, in fact – to receive acupuncture treatments whilst you are also being treated for the same thing by your GP or hospital consultant.
Although it’s not all that long ago that complementary and alternative therapies were widely seen as being entirely separate, I’m pleased to say that there has been a much more significant shift towards collaboration between doctors and therapists in recent years.
Those of you who read my blogs regularly will know that I am a strong advocate of integrative medicine, which is where different health practitioners collaborate, together with the patient themselves, to achieve better outcomes.
But before I move on to why an integrative approach is such a fundamental part of a truly patient-centric medical philosophy, let’s deal first with why there’s absolutely nothing to worry about if you’re thinking of supplementing your clinical treatment with acupuncture.
Care of the patient is absolutely paramount
Our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of our patients and we work very hard to understand the medical context for everyone we see. That’s why we ask you to complete a health questionnaire before your first treatment (and I’ve yet to meet a reputable acupuncturist who doesn’t ask patients to complete a similar form).
Now, I know that filling in these forms can be a chore – I feel the same way when I’m asked to outline my medical history – but it’s our patients’ opportunity to let us know if they’re suffering from any medical conditions (or have done in the past) and, if so, how they are being treated (or were treated).
We’ll then talk that through with you to make sure we have a comprehensive understanding of your medical background. If we have any concerns about anything you’ve declared, we’ll tell you.
It’s called complementary medicine for a reason
Acupuncture is a form of ancient Chinese medicine and is sometimes also called traditional Chinese medicine. You may see this written down as TCM. No one really knows exactly how long acupuncture has been with us, but we know for sure that it was common 2,000 years ago.
Over that time, and as clinical medical practices have evolved, acupuncture, along with other Far Eastern therapies, have been used in conjunction with what we now consider to be ‘conventional’ medical approaches.
Over the last few decades these therapies have been collectively known as complementary medicine.
While acupuncture is often used by patients as a standalone treatment for their condition, it is also a complementary treatment and is often also used in support of other healthcare approaches that may be part of a patient’s care, providing additional recovery and rehabilitative expertise.
Acupuncture is non-invasive and not contra-indicative
Nothing in the way acupuncture works conflicts with the care provided by clinical practitioners. Any drugs you have been prescribed will continue to work exactly as they should – in fact, because acupuncture improves the body’s energy and blood flow it may help your medication to do its work more effectively.
Similarly, acupuncture works very effectively with other complementary therapies, such as physiotherapy and chiropractic/osteopathy, for example.
Doctors recognise its benefits
Acupuncture is well regarded in clinical medicine for its therapeutic properties and many GPs work closely with acupuncture practitioners, referring patients who they think might gain additional benefit from acupuncture sessions.
What if I’m pregnant?
Although we obviously take a great extra special care of our pregnant patients, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have acupuncture while you’re carrying a child. In fact, acupuncture can be a huge source of relief from the effects of the strain your body is placed under while pregnant.
You mentioned integrative medicine – what is that?
Integrative – or lifestyle – medicine is simply a collaborative approach to caring for a patient with everyone involved in that person’s health journey – including the patient themselves.
I believe – as do many others across the health spectrum – that patient outcomes are better when we collaborate and communicate to support each other’s expertise, skills, and experience.
Often, recovery or rehabilitation requires the patient to make changes to their lifestyle. Sometimes these are small changes, like diet and nutrition, and sometimes they’re bigger changes that involve planning and effort.
By involving you, the patient, in that process and by all the health practitioners involved in your care committing to a mutually supportive approach, the chances of a patient enjoying an optimal successful outcome are exponentially increased.
If you’d like to learn more about how acupuncture can support your clinical health journey, please get in touch for an informal, no-obligation chat.