With the new Acupuncture Service introduced at Changi General Hospital (CGH) at the start of 2022, patients plagued by conditions such as neck and lower back pain now have an added option for managing their discomfort.
CGH acupuncturist Lam Man Sze shares more on her role and her journey to becoming an acupuncturist.
Explaining the body’s meridian system to a patient.
We attend to a diverse range of patients whose pains are caused by various conditions. During consultation, we ask them about their present condition, symptoms and medical history. All patients referred to the service will be assessed by us on their suitability. A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis will be derived after the assessment, and acupuncture will be administered based on it.
Some patients ask us if the treatment hurts. Our response to this would be that it varies from person to person. Some may experience temporary pain during the initial insertion of the acupuncture needles, while others do not feel any pain. After the needles are in position, there should not be any sensation of pain.
As part of the hospital’s research and innovation culture, we also study the literature on the efficacy of acupuncture for different conditions, and are looking into research collaborations in this area.
What was a memorable experience in the course of your work?
I was caring for a patient with a chronic persistent neck pain condition that caused him to experience a radiating pain in his head, leading to intense migraines. During the acupuncture session, he realised that needles were not only placed on his region of pain, but also on other parts of his body. The frequency of his pain subsequently reduced from four times to once a week. He shared that he was surprised at this beneficial non-localised approach and was relieved after his pain (along with his frustration) was alleviated. Once his symptoms dissipated, he was able to focus on his work again.
Clinical Assistant Professor Wee Tze Chao
Senior Consultant, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, CGH
Why did you decide to join CGH and how do you hope to help patients?
I previously worked in the environmental engineering and operations fields, before I decided to follow my calling to help those with health conditions. I took a postgraduate course at the Singapore College of TCM and graduated with a bachelor’s degree conferred by the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. To attain the Singapore TCM practising license, I took the Singapore TCM Physicians Registration Examination (STRE), a mandatory requirement to be an acupuncturist in Singapore. I then worked as a TCM physician and an acupuncturist in various settings. When I heard that an acupuncture service was being set up in CGH, I wanted to join the hospital to provide my expertise in acupuncture as a value-added treatment option in caring for patients.
Carrying out acupuncture treatment for a patient.
CGH acupuncturist Sim Ann Ling shares more about acupuncture and how it fits into the multi-disciplinary care provided at the hospital.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a TCM treatment that involves stimulation of certain points on or near the surface of the body. It improves the flow of “qi” (energetic balance of the body) or energy along the meridians (pathways) to normalise physiological functions or to treat ailments or conditions.
How does it work?
During the insertion of acupuncture needles, both local and centralised reactions are stimulated. Local reaction involves the stimulation of sensory neurons in the skin while a central reaction occurs when the signals reach the brain and spinal cord.
Acupuncture can influence other systems such as the cardiovascular system, endocrine system and immune system.
What sort of pain does acupuncture help alleviate?
Acupuncture can be used to treat conditions such as neck pain, back pain, frozen shoulder, knee pain, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, sciatica and headaches.
What other conditions does acupuncture treat?
The use of acupuncture is not just limited to pain management, but may be incorporated in the treatment of other ailments such as Bell’s palsy, stroke, menstrual pain and insomnia.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is safe when administered correctly. Acupuncture points are found deep in the muscles, joints or bones. Acupuncturists are trained in human anatomy and will avoid vital vessels, nerve trunks and vital organs when inserting needles.
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