Acupuncture offered for pain management at four public hospitals

Acupuncture treatment for a patient.
Acupuncture treatment for a patient. PHOTO: MA KUANG

Acupuncture treatment is provided to hospital patients mainly as a way to manage pain.

Four public hospitals offer the service today - Singapore General Hospital (SGH), National University Hospital (NUH), Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A referral from a doctor is needed, and acupuncture treatment is generally open to both outpatients and those warded in the hospital.

At SGH, acupuncture is part of a multidisciplinary approach to managing patients' pain issues.

Besides acupuncture, patients may also undergo physiotherapy and psychological interventions, said Dr Tan Kian Hian, director of SGH's Pain Management Centre.

Most have pain conditions like backaches and neck pain.

A minority of cases involve people who had suffered a stroke.

In the past few years, the service has seen a steady increase of cases - about 5 per cent more every year, said Dr Tan, a senior consultant at the anaesthesiology department.

"Our patients are generally receptive to this modality of treatment."

Meanwhile, the acupuncture clinic at NUH receives about 11,000 patient visits a year, said Professor Lee Tat Leang, a senior consultant at the hospital's anaesthesia department.

Close to 80 per cent of cases are for pain, usually caused by degenerative processes affecting the spine and joints, he added.

Other conditions include menstrual pain, migraines, insomnia and frozen shoulder.

Prof Lee, a Western-trained doctor who studied acupuncture in China and registered as a practitioner here in 2001, said the clinic is expecting to treat more patients this year.

It relocated to larger premises at the NUH Medical Centre in December last year.

Private health groups like Raffles Medical and Thomson Medical also offer a range of TCM services, including acupuncture.

Poon Chian Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Acupuncture offered for pain management at four public hospitals'. Print Edition | Subscribe