By: 13 August 2013
Managing pain and other medically proven uses of acupuncture

This issue’s review was kindly written by Dr James F Peerless, anaesthetics registrar, William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Kent.


In Western medicine, the use of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, has not always been well recognised by medical practitioners. In this 160-page paperback, Dr Richard Halvorsen introduces the role of this ancient Chinese practice, supporting accounts of his own practical experience as a GP and acupuncturist with scientific evidence from medical literature.

To guide the reader, the book is divided into two main sections. In the first section, acupuncture and its background are introduced and discussed. In the following section, a series of chapters detail specific diseases and symptoms whilst a simple rating system is employed to demonstrate the likely effectiveness of treatments. The endnotes after each chapter are useful in enabling the reader to further pursue a topic and examine the evidence for themselves where desired.

The book is realistic in its approach, recognising that acupuncture cannot be used to treat all conditions, that there are dangers of excluding ‘orthodox’ medicine completely, and that the efficacy of acupuncture is likely to vary greatly from person to person. In effect, it presents an interesting and balanced overview of the approaches that Western and Traditional Chinese medicine take towards treatment of a disease, all the while attempting to approach acupuncture from a scientific perspective.

The chapters are well structured and the book is indexed, which, combined with the author’s flowing style of prose, aids the reader in researching further into any queries or treatments.

All in all, the book provides an intriguing insight into the role that acupuncture may have when dealing with disease, especially disorders with such complexity as chronic pain. As such, the book will be of interest to patients who are considering treatment in acupuncture and also to doctors seeking an introductory text to the field. ■