Monday, 28 March 2011

Adverse Acupuncture


Today graduate student are leading the forefront of knowledge and scientific discovery. Graduate newspapers tend to explore there ability to form clear arguments and develop ideas. All though the content of such publications tends to be about student life, mostly consisting of articles about drinking, relationships and careers, sometimes they also explore issues like health. Today’s issue of New University, a student publication from the University of California, contained an article discussing Acupuncture 1. This looked to be an interesting article because it initially seemed to be a unbias analysis, however it then quickly degraded into a bias personal account of one person, that almost bordered on advertising or endorsing this practice. It stated “What if I told you that I found a doctor who simply sticks a few needles into you and all your pains and aches disappear in a matter of a few days…. Say goodbye to expensive doctor bills” within the second paragraph, it then went on to discuss the authors experience, the medical doctor had told her she had torn some ligaments in her ankle and needed to rest it.

Essentially, she didn’t listen to the doctor and instead went to see an acupuncture therapist which her relative had recommended, because apparently her ‘horribly allergies symptoms had miraculously disappeared after one needle treatment’. She claimed she was skeptical at first but then went, had two needles put into her arm and was told to start running, she said her ankle didn’t hurt anymore but that her arm started hurting. She was told that “Because the pain balled up in my left ankle was being released into my right arm, the needle pinpointed pressure pain points, which diagonally connected my left ankle to my right arm.” Now, I’m fairly certain that it does not take a scientist to know that this doesn’t make any sense. Why would separate body parts be joined diagonally? Why would putting ‘pressure’ on a point relieve pain elsewhere? Would it not be sensible to conclude that the pain relief could be due to different reasons? For example, the placebo effect is very strong and influential, and could well be responsible. Another explanation could be that the shock and fear of being pricked with needles has caused an adrenalin response, and so act as a pain killer, allowing her to run.

What is frustrating is that this article is written aimed at other college students, who are traditionally less economically stable and tend not to be able to afford medical treatment within the United States, where there in no national health service, and so if you are unable to afford private health insurance then you are left with very few options. This article is likely to have a negative impact on their lives, because they are likely to believe that since she is also a student then she will be educated enough to trust, and since it worked on allergies and injuries, then it could help them. This will simple make students consult alternative practitioners rather than medical professionals, and so not get the medication and treatment that would actually be beneficial, delaying treatment and putting students at risk. All “Thanks to Acupuncture”. 

1 http://www.newuniversity.org/2011/03/features/acupuncture-alternative-remedy/

E Markham (2011). Adverse Acupuncture Blogspot