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We recently introduced you to two of the newest members of the YourGP team, Eleni Kantzou, the first ever dentist to join YourGP, and Matt Bulkeley, a GP who focuses on acupuncture and joint injection.
And earlier this week we caught up with Matt, who has a particular interest in musculoskeletal problems, to find out more about how he got involved in acupuncture in the first place, and how the complementary treatment can help reduce pain.
In fact, Matt has first-hand experience of the pain relief that acupuncture can provide – and it’s this experience that ultimately led to him specialising in the treatment.
He explains: “I had a sore back which developed into a disk bulge, and unusually, the bulge went in and compressed the nerves. This is a rare complication, as whereas most discs bulge out, mine went in.
“This resulted in me needing immediate surgery, but after the surgery, my back was prone to go into spasm which is very sore. It has also left me with altered sensation and pains which go down my right leg.
“I tried everything from physio and hydrotherapy, to back to work classes and pilates, but nothing worked.”
Eventually, Matt visited Dr Harry Burnett, a specialist in sports injuries, who looked after his back using acupuncture and trigger release of tight muscles. After numerous failed attempts with other treatments, the acupuncture worked – getting Matt back up and running quickly and in a pain-free manner.
Using his new first-hand knowledge of how acupuncture can work, Matt added to his qualifications, through the British Institute for Musculoskeletal Medicine and the British Medical Acupuncture Society, and went on to work as a freelance GP around Edinburgh and the Lothians, offering various treatment options, including acupuncture.
Acupuncture is used for a range of health problems, including back pain, headaches and migraines.
It can also be used for lesser known reasons, like reducing the redness of skin, pimples, scars and acne cysts, and increasing blood flow for couples undergoing IVF treatment.
In Matt’s opinion, there are some main benefits of acupuncture. “Headaches, migraines and occipital neuralgia are often routed from tight shoulder muscles (traps) and can often be well managed with acupuncture,” he explains.
“And in the future, acupuncture is likely to be recommended as a treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee, as the evidence from trials is that electroacupuncture is as good as painkillers with none of the side effects.”
Matt explains: “The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) now recognises that acupuncture works and has an evidence base, and recommends it for migraine, tension headaches and low back pain.
“One thing to consider it that 20% of the population are ‘elite responders’ who respond very strongly to acupuncture and need only a few sessions to see a great response.
“70% are average and 10% acupuncture doesn’t work at all, so there’s no way of finding out until you try.”
I went in for an allergy shot and was thoroughly pleased with the practice from start to finish. They informed me with the all the necessary details and potential side effects (which thankfully I didn’t have). The level of professionalism is felt from the time you enter all the way through the end of your appointment! Thank you! See you next year!