NICE Recommends Acupuncture for Chronic Primary pain.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published support for the use of both traditional Chinese and Western acupuncture for chronic primary pain. Chronic primary pain is defined by NICE as pain for which no underlying condition adequately accounts for the pain or its impact. In the long term it may help NHS referrals and may reassure public attitudes toward acupuncture. This is welcome news for ATCM members and represents a positive shift from earlier NICE recommendations.
In November 2016, NICE did not support acupuncture for the treatment of low back pain. Their view was that there was no evidence that it was better than sham treatment. (https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-publishes-updated-advice-on-treating-low-back-pain ) This surprising stance was objectionable not only to acupuncture practitioners but also to Western medical doctors. Even the British Medical Journal questioned the recommendation. (https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6748/rr-3)
Yesterday, April 7, however, NICE published guidelines recommending the use of acupuncture for chronic pain:
Acupuncture for chronic primary pain
1.2.5 Consider a single course of acupuncture or dry needling, within a traditional Chinese or Western acupuncture system, for people aged 16 years and over to manage chronic primary pain, but only if the course:
- is delivered in a community setting and
- is delivered by a band 7 (equivalent or lower) healthcare professional with appropriate training and
- is made up of no more than 5 hours of healthcare professional time (the number and length of sessions can be adapted within these boundaries) or
- is delivered by another healthcare professional with appropriate training and/or in another setting for equivalent or lower cost.
(https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng193/chapter/Recommendations#assessing-all-types-of-chronic-pain-chronic-primary-pain-chronic-secondary-pain-or-both) Members may like to consider adding this link to their websites and social media platforms to inform the public.
It is notable that the treatment must be given by a healthcare professional, which is another benefit from our new ONS classification gained earlier this year. ATCM and the BAF will continue to work to create a more favourable working environment for our members.