The acupuncture community received some welcome news on the 3rd August 2020, following the press release from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The press release is linked for you below.
The new guidelines are based on the the assessment, management and treatment of Primary Chronic Pain in over 16's.
Draft guidelines published by NICE classifies Primary Chronic Pain as "...a condition in itself which can't be accounted for by another diagnosis". It cites examples such as chronic widespread pain, chronic musculoskeletal pain or chronic pelvic pain.
Although not specifically mentioned in the draft guidelines, it might be a possibility that acupuncture could also be provided for conditions such as chronic headaches and migraines which have no specific diagnosis or obvious underlying cause.
While this is a promising announcement, until the full guidelines are published, we won't know the full extent to which acupuncture can be utilised as the report states:
"Acupuncture is recommended as an option for some people with chronic primary pain, provided it is delivered within certain, clearly defined parameters".
One important development which arises from the publication of these draft guidelines is the recognition that there is a need for greater research to be carried out in relation to the alternative treatments being discussed. Hopefully this may stimulate the implementation of much larger and more serious studies into the efficacy of acupuncture. Only time will tell.
What is encouraging, is that there is now recognition that traditional painkillers are not the be-all and end-all solution for pain treatment and management, along with the acknowledgement that they can ultimately cause more harm than good.
Hopefully, in time, these developments will give people suffering with chronic pain access to much needed alternatives, and finally give them freedom to choose a more appropriate method for managing their pain and returning some quality of life to them.