Post Herpetic Neuralgia

2012 has seen a stream of patients in the Norwich clinic suffering with Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN). After an attack of shingles / chicken pox (involving the herpes virus), the nerve involved can remain incredibly sensitive and continue to elicit pain for months. Many cases of PHN are self limiting and can be helped with conventional medications such as anti-depressants and opiates. However if the drugs don’t work – there is little else recommended. A small percentage (3%) of cases will continue with severe discomfort and as many as 40% are estimated to struggled to some degree or another long term.

Acupuncture has a good history of addressing nerve pain in general – Prior to 2011 I had little experience with PHN, this year changed that! From the hips, to the back to the face – I had to learn how to use acupuncture effectively for this condition. The most resistant case was of neuralgia remaining 2 years after the original infection with minimal relief from medication. Using electro-acupuncture and infra red heat, all remaining PHN cleared up after the 4th session – even I was surprised! I found as a rule with successful cases, the first session of acupuncture gives relief for the rest of the day only. The second session usually lasts into the next day, the third extends for several days and by the 4th or 5th we are seeing substantial pain relief. On top of acupuncture, I ask all patients to stop drinking any coffee and sometimes to take a good quality B-vit complex.

Most PHN patients see me twice for one to one appointments before they are moved to the multi-bed acupuncture clinic on Thursdays to continue their sessions at reduced rates. Please ask your GP for a referral letter for further reductions.

The Norwich Community Acupuncture Clinic runs from Norwich city centre at The Complementary Health Care Clinic 01603 665173.

Different styles of Acupuncture in Norwich

Did you know that in Norwich alone there are 4 different styles of acupuncture commonly practiced? How do you choose which one is right for you?

Two of the often used types of acupuncture are ’5 elements’ and ‘TCM’ (Traditional Chinese Medicine). In 5 element acupuncture the influence of our mental and emotional state on our body is paramount, many people who already understand the root of their ailment to be deeply imbedded in their thought processes will be well suited to this style. The feel of the acupuncture session will be gentle, thoughtful and nourishing, also making it a good choice for children.

TCM acupuncture is broad term which includes much of the acupuncture coming out of China in the mid 1900′s. It is often seen as slightly more aggressive than other types of acupuncture – though this ultimately depends on the person performing the treatment. Practitioners use electro-acupuncture and strong needling techniques – making it a good choice for people with pain conditions – back, knee and shoulder for example.

Japanese acupuncture uses ultra thin needles, and there are several variants whereby the needle does not actually penetrate the skin. Great for children and people who experience needle shock.

Medical acupuncture is performed by those who are already registered with another professional healthcare skill – physiotherapists, nurses and osteopaths for example. The British Medical Acupuncture Association runs accredited courses of various lengths. The plus side of this is that you can receive acupuncture from someone who has additional knowledge in relation to their field – giving them a more complete understanding on your condition. The flip side to this is that the actual clinical training time on some of these courses is limited – so don’t be shy to ask your therapist how much time they have spent studying before you sign your consent form. My experience from client feedback is that medical acupuncture tends to hurt!

I practice mainly TCM – though I also studied 5 elements. TCM for me is the most effective way to relieve aches and pains in the physical body and it is what I use when working at Norwich’s Community Acupuncture Clinic – which is exclusively for pain relief.

Every acupuncturist develops their own style – nearly all of us include cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, infra red and electro-acupuncture as standard within our practice, so it is not uncommon to actually receive several ‘therapies’ within your normal acupuncture session. Because we can vary so much individually – don’t be afraid to try again with someone new if your previous acupuncture did not help. It is worth spending a little time considering which type of acupuncture is best suited to you. There is a good story here in The Telegraph that illustrates this point. Finally – whoever you do choose make sure they have done the appropriate amount of training and that they are registered with one of the following organisations.

1. The British Acupuncture Council

2. The British Medical Acupuncture Association

3. The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture UK

Electro-acupuncture

Electo-acupuncture in Norwich

Electro-acupuncture around the knee

Electro-acupuncture was first used around 1940-1950′s and has rapidly spread in popularity. I use it for pain related conditions – sciatica, lower back pain and arthritic knees to give some examples. The feeling of receiving electro-acupuncture is difficult to describe. My patients’ have called it ‘tapping’, ‘buzzing’ and ‘like a mobile phone vibrating next to the skin’. Regardless of how you perceive the sensation, it should always be at a level low enough to allow you to drift off while the needles and electricity do their job! Yes amazingly once it is on – you are left to relax  It is also used in fertility acupuncture on the lower abdomen to affect the tissues and blood supply. Although there is some debate as to which areas are to be avoided, many acupuncturists include electro-acupuncture on the head for neuralgia and similar disorders. My lovely mum allows me to use electro-acupuncture on her face regularly to help increase circulation to the facial skin – plumping it out and improving her complexion! Although I choose not to practice ‘facial rejuvenation’, there are several excellent acupuncturists in Norwich who do so it is something to consider before that face lift…..There are a few no-no’s for electro-acupuncture – Epilepsy and Pacemakers being the obvious, so make sure your therapist takes a full case history before plugging you in.