Acupuncture Gallstones
Complications Gallbladder pain

In acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of gallstones I am always cautious of complications, especially with patients complaining of acute gallbladder pain; because of the dangers involved, here’s what you should know.

The reason is that there are dangers associated with gallstones. So see below for some of the complications that you should know about. These can be dangerous if you do not attend to your complaint quickly.

But first...

What is bile and how are gallstones formed?

Bile is a solution composed of various substances such as water, bile salts, lecithin, cholesterol and some other small solutes. Changes in the relative concentration of these components may cause precipitation from solution and formation of a nidus, or nest, around which gallstones are formed.

Gallstones are formed from bile. The stones can be as small as a grain of sand. They can also become as large as an inch in diameter depending on how much time has elapsed since their initial formation.

Depending on the main substance that initiated the formation of gallstones, the types of stones that can form are:

- cholesterol gallstones (may be yellow in colour) - pigment stones (brown crumbly stones of bacterial or parasitic infection in the biliary tree) - biliary sludge (appear in gel form, this is a precursor to the formation of gallstones in people especially those who are fasting, pregnant or receiving parenteral nutrition).

Gallstones are usually discovered by routine X-ray study following severe pain and manifestation of symptoms, or incidentally during surgery or autopsy.

Acupuncture and Complications from gallstones

Below is a sample list of complications that can arise if you have gallstones. So it is best to have your gallbladder or abdominal pain investigated quickly.

  • Acute cholecystitis (stone does not pass into the duodenum, it remains stuck in the cystic duct). A stone blocking the cystic duct or opening from the gallbladder usually produces symptoms of biliary colic, which is right upper quadrant abdominal pain that feels like cramping. If the stone does not pass into the duodenum, but continues to block the cystic duct, acute cholecystitis symptoms listed above will manifest.
  • Chronic cholecystitis is rare.
  • Cholangitis (bacterial growth in stagnant bile.

If the common bile duct is blocked for a substantial period of time, certain bacteria may find their way up behind the stone and grow in the stagnant bile producing symptoms of cholangitis.

Cholangitis is a serious condition and usually requires hospitalisation for treatment. Furthermore, the continued blockage of normal bile flow may produce jaundice.

  • Choledocholithiasis --- this occurs when gallstone lodges in the common bile duct causing obstruction. This gives severe biliary pain and cholestatic jaundice.
  • Pancreatitis – this occurs when stones blocking the lower end of the common bile duct (where it enters the duodenum) obstruct secretion from the pancreas, causing pancreatitis.

Again, don't delay treatment.

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Dr Pier Tsui-Po Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinic
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Telephone: 9796 2388


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