Can acupuncture help patients with stroke?
Stroke is a serious condition which blood supply to the brain is cut off. It is the second most common cause of death worldwide, and the leading cause of adult disability. Patients with mild strokes or rapidly improving symptoms usually have a good prognosis, while patients with major strokes have a poor prognosis. Acupuncture help reduce brain damage and brain recovery. The mechanisms are as follows: Acupuncture has anti-inflammatory effects and increases cerebral blood flow which would protect the brain from ischaemic injury; acupuncture reduces cerebral odema after cerebral ischaemia and protect neuron damage; acupuncture also regulates biochemical changes involved in post stroke condition. Acupuncture acts on brain region which reduces sensitivity to pain and stress and promotes relaxation reducing anxieties. There have been many researches published recently to support the effectiveness of acupuncture on stroke recovery. In China, stroke is treated with acupuncture. A survey of 1095 physicians from 247 hospitals in China between 1993 and 1994 has shown that 66% of Chinese doctors routinely used acupuncture to treat patients with stroke and 63% of them believed its effectiveness. Another survey in 2007 from patients with acute stroke has shown that 63% patients with stroke would choose acupuncture as part of medical intervention. Many researches were carried out to examine the effectiveness of acupuncture on stroke to support the clinical application of the interventions. Some research has shown that acupuncture can slightly help acute stroke by decreasing mortality rate and dependency at the end of long term follow up and improving neurological deficit scores. Acupuncture treatment for strokes has been listed as a proved effective treatment for stroke in world health organisation (WHO) website http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js4926e/5.html.
Post stroke rehabilitation is an important part of the treatment of stroke to reduce disability and improve quality of life for patients with stroke. Available evidence suggested that acupuncture may be effective for treating poststroke neurological impairment and dysfunction
In Korea, integrative treatment is also used for patients with stroke. For inpatients, integrative management is applied at the request of the primary physician with consent of patients or their families. In the acute stage, neurologists or neurosurgeons take charge as the primary physicians. Korean medicine doctors cooperate as secondary physicians to the neurologists and neurosurgeons. When patients passed the acute stage, responsibilities are changed between primary and secondary doctors. The rehabilitation program is conducted under the supervision of rehabilitation medicine doctors. The most frequently used complementary and alternative medicines are acupuncture including manualacupuncture, electroacupuncture, and intradermal acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal prescriptions and acupuncture point injection. From their experiences, they believe the integration of complementary and alternative medicine and Western medicine have benefit for patients with stroke.
Acupuncture improves spasticity in post stroke patients
Post stroke patients can be seriously affected by many complications as handicaps, unclear consciousness, aphasia, dementia, psychological abnormalities and incomplete bladder emptying. Spasticity is very common in post stroke patients. Spasticity is a condition in which muscles are constantly tight and stiff. It could cause reduced flexibility, posture and functional mobility; it could also cause joint pain, muscle and joint shortening etc. In post stroke patients, muscle spasm in one side of the body are in constant contraction state is very common. The affected side of the body is rigid, weak and has low functional abilities. Treatment includes antispastic medication such as baclofen, diazepam etc. Physiotherapy including muscle stretching and exercises could help preventing muscle shortening and atrophy. Acupuncture is use to help stroke rehabilitation and it improves post stroke motor ability. Some research study showed that acupuncture reduces spasticity by stroke and maintain a reduced level of spasticity. A study showed that combining a 6 week electroacupuncture and standard rehabilitation treatment reduced the spasticity of the elbow for chronic post stroke patients. The effect depends on the acupuncture points chosen for the treatment to improve spasticity.
Recently a study investigated the effect of acupuncture on muscle spasm. In this study, 44 patients were allocated in acupuncture group in which patients received acupuncture combined with rehabilitation treatment while 42 patients were in control group in which patients received only rehabilitation treatment. The key acupuncture points selected were from head, face, chest, abdomen, shoulder, back, hands, feet and ankles. Routine limb rehabilitation program was applied to both groups. One course included 10 treatments and two courses were performed in total. The effective rate of antispasm was 90% in acupuncture group which was superior to control group (73.8%). The improvement of motro function was significantly greater in acupuncture group. This study showed that acupuncture combined with rehabilitation therapy effectively relieves the muscle spams in post stroke patients, improves the limb function and the life activity.
Tong S Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2013) 33:399-402
Bi-huei Wang et al Clin Interv Aging (2014) 9:147-156
Zhang JH et al Neuroepidemiology (2014) 42:50-8
Park SU et al Complement Ther Clin Pract (2014) 20:37-41
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Leading acupuncture specialist for facial rejuvenation, pain relief, stress relief, fertility, fatigue, anxiety.
Based at Kensington and Chelsea at Central London. Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.
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M Ju. (2015) What Part Does Acupuncture Play in IVF?
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 22 Issue 1 March 2015 P21
M Ju (2014) Current opinion in acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 21 Issue 1 September 2014 P9
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