There is no one health condition or set of conditions that acupuncture is meant to treat. Instead, acupuncturists use the treatment for an extremely wide range of health conditions.
The use of acupuncture is not always based on scientific evidence. This means that practitioners may use acupuncture to treat a certain health condition, even though there have not been scientific trials showing that 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 acupuncturist for a health condition, it is advisable to discuss this with your GP.
NICE recommended uses
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines to the NHS on use of treatments and care of patients. Currently, NICE recommends that acupuncture is considered as a treatment option for one condition:
- lower back pain
Other common uses
Acupuncture is often used to treat musculoskeletal conditions (of the bones and muscles) and pain conditions, including:
- headache and migraine
- chronic pain, including neck and back pain
- joint pain
- dental pain
- post-operative pain
Many acupuncturists use acupuncture to treat a far wider range of conditions, including:
- post-operative nausea and vomiting
- allergies, including hay fever and eczema
- depression and anxiety
- digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- infertility and menstrual disorders