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Acupuncture - Common uses

Common uses of acupuncture

Acupuncture practitioners use the treatment for a wide range of health problems.

There is an increasing number of clinical trials assessing acupuncture and comparing it with a placebo treatment or best standard treatment.

However, the use of acupuncture is not always based on rigorous scientific evidence.

This means practitioners may use acupuncture to treat a certain health condition, even though there have not been scientific trials proving acupuncture works for that condition.

For more information about the evidence on acupuncture and specific health conditions, see evidence for acupuncture.

Sometimes patients combine acupuncture with conventional treatments that have been prescribed by a GP or hospital consultant.

If you are being treated by an acupuncture practitioner for a health condition or are considering having acupuncture, it is advisable to discuss this with your GP.

NICE recommended uses

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines for the NHS on the use of treatments and care of patients.

Currently, NICE only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for:

  • persistent lower back pain

  • chronic tension-type headaches

  • migraines

Other common uses

Acupuncture is also often used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:

  • chronic pain, such as neck pain

  • joint pain

  • dental pain

  • postoperative pain

​Some acupuncture practitioners use acupuncture to treat a far wider range of conditions, including:

  • postoperative nausea and vomiting

  • allergies, including hay fever

  • eczema

  • fatigue, including fatigue in cancer patients after chemotherapy

  • depression and anxiety

  • digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • infertility and menstrual disorders

  • insomnia

  • a dry mouth (xerostomia)

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