FC, i.e. Functional constipation is highly common in the general population around the globe and has a consequential negative effect on the health-related quality of the life of the individuals. A number of clinical trials have indicated that acupuncture is quite effective in the treatment of functional constipation. Nonetheless, the sample sizes of these earlier studies were quite small. Also, there are no reports which have investigated the link between the therapeutic effect and the stimulation parameter.
What is functional constipation?
FC, functional constipation is a common type of functional gastro-intestinal disorders. Usually, constipation can be defined as infrequent bowel movements, or BMs, generally less than 3 times in a week. The patients have a more far-reaching set of symptoms which include lumpy and hard stools, straining and a sensation of incomplete rectal expulsion, bloating, and abdominal discomfort, a sense of anorectal blockage at the time of defecation, and the requirement for manual maneuvers at the time of defecation. The symptoms of functional constipation are very common which can negatively impact the quality of the person’s life. Due to its high rate of prevalence, and the severe symptoms, this disorder showcases a large economic concern to the health care system. Although there are a number of medications, including over-the counter products, fiber supplementation, prescription laxatives, for chronic constipation, the satisfaction level with treatments is still not adequate. Hence, many patients turn to go for alternative and complementary options from TCM, i.e. traditional Chinese medicine for their constipation symptoms.
Electro acupuncture for easing constipation
Acupuncture along with mild electric currents may prove to be better than doing nothing at all for relieving sever constipation, according to a Chinese study. The researchers randomly assigned the patients for receiving either what is called the electro acupuncture, where an electrical current is passed through a pair of acupuncture needles, or a dummy treatment with identical needles, for 8 weeks.
As compared to the dummy method, patients in the electro puncture group experienced a much greater increase in the weekly bowel movements, as per the study. As acupuncture can involve some discomfort and pain and needs a number of weekly sessions, it still can make sense for the patients to go for this therapy only after they fail to respond to the conventional wester approaches such as medications and laxatives.
Electro acupuncture- a viable treatment for constipation
According to a study, most patients with severe constipation have to constantly take medicine for defecation. Hence, the patients in such cases can profit from electro- acupuncture treatment for its safety, effectiveness and sustained effect.
The laxatives give only temporary relief, with about half the patients dissatisfied with the treatment.
Limitations of the study
The study included frequent acupuncture treatments, and it’s not known if this is a practicable and doable outside the highly controlled setting of the clinical trial or if the less frequent treatments may be effective. Along with that, the trial lasted for only 20 weeks. It is still unknown if EA is useful over a long period of time.
In the US, the acupuncturists are licensed in about every state, however, are most common in the big cities, especially on the west and the east coasts. Most acupuncture colleges teach electro-acupuncture. Neither Medicaid nor Medicare covers the acupuncture but some private insurers cover a set number of sessions under their policies.
The treatment cost can vary broadly from one practitioner to another. The fees generally range from 60 dollars to 120 dollars per session. The results have found out that topical herbal medicine along with acupuncture is very effective in relieving the post-stroke constipation. It gives an effective treatment option for assisting in the alleviation of the suffering.