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Q. My 28year old daughter has been off work for 1 year with debilitating abdominal pain, after the usual investigations it has been found that she has adhesionsin in her abdoman (although the doctors have not confirmed that this is the cause of her pain). With the exasperating out-look of trial & error pain killers for the next indefinate period whould acupucture be of help?


A. The doctor's caution in not concluding that the adhesions are causing the pain is justified; although adhesions can cause considerable pain in the lower abdomen they are by no means the only cause of chronic pain. Many people, for example, suffer from forms of irritable bowel syndrome with similar symptoms but without any obvious physical evidence like adhesions to identify as a possible cause.



The strength of Chinese medicine is that many of its diagnostic systems draw directly on the patient's description of the exact type, nature and location of the pain which they are experiencing, and can make sense of this in relation to the various functions in the lower abdomen and the patterns of flow of energy in the area. This can often provide treatment strategies which aim to relieve the pain by moving energy where it is blocked or in excess.


The best course of action would be for your daughter to visit a BAcC member local to where she lives to see whether they think that her problem is one which they consider might be helped by treatment. Chinese medicine treats the person, not the illness or disease, which is why it is always difficult to say 'acupuncture treats x' with absolute certainty; in some cases a practitioner might conclude that there are other more appropriate therapies to deal with a person's specific problem. However, people with ill-defined chronic abdominal pains often turn to acupuncture, and anecdotally there are frequent reports of a lessening of the frequency and severity of the condition. At this point, however, the research evidence is a little thin on the ground, but that is as much to do with the fact that running trials for conditions without precise definition is very difficult.


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