Pune: In the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has included injuries or harm associated with traditional medicine like acupuncture or related therapies to be better documented for the first time.
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Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that entails stimulating certain points on the body, most often with a needle penetrating the skin, to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions.
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In a paper submitted to the bulletin of the WHO 2010, it has been concluded that various types of acupuncture-related adverse events have been reported in China (where acupuncture is most popular).
Similar events have been reported by other countries, usually as a result of inappropriate technique.
Acupuncture can be considered inherently safe in the hands of well trained practitioners. However, there is a need to find effective ways to improve the practice of acupuncture and to monitor and minimise the health risks involved.
As acupuncture is popular and its use is so widespread, safety is an important issue that deserves close attention. Speaking about this, Dr Nitin Bhagali, an orthopedic doctor from the city, said that what are the standards used in practicing acupuncture.
“The question is whether the needles used for acupuncture are sterilised before using. Also, are these needles are re-useable?
“The greater threat here is that through these needles, the patient as well as doctors and nurses may also be exposed to diseases like hepatitis B and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There has to be a proper guideline to while giving this type of treatment,” said Bhagali.
He further added that this technique can also cause injuries to veins, arteries and nerves.
“Vein damage can happen while using these needles. What can turn into a dangerous picture is the damage of artery which can cause loss of blood. But a nerve damage can be further detrimental to the patient causing irreparable damage,” said Bhagali.
However, Dr Pravin Darak, President of the General Practitioners Association (GPA) said that treatment like acupuncture can be effective as well under a trained practitioner.
“With intake of medicines, other organs are also affected a lot. The side effect of taking medicines in case of severe pain have shown possible damage to kidneys. In such cases, using this therapy helps the patient,” said Darak.