A case history published in Acupuncture in Medicine investigated acupuncture for the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon. The researchers concluded that acupuncture reduced the patient’s pain intensity levels, decreased stiffness of the joints and normalized the color of the patient’s fingers and toes. Raynaud’s phenomenon comprises both Raynaud’s disease (idiopathic) and Raynaud’s syndrome (secondary). Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) is a vasospastic disorder that causes discoloration of the fingers, toes and other regions. RP is due to excess sympathetic nerve system stimulation leading to excess vasoconstriction. The consequent hypoxia causes discoloration and sometimes pain, swelling, ulceration or necrosis. Exposure to cold exacerbates the condition and warmth tends to relieve the symptoms.
Acupuncture was applied to a woman, thirty years of age, who suffered from pain and stiffness of the extremities from Raynaud’s disease. Acupuncture was applied to acupoint LI4 (Hegu) bilaterally. The acupuncture was applied for a total of five minutes at a rate of two times per week over a period of two months. The researchers note that a measurement of the patient’s serum proinflammatory cytokines suggests an anti-inflammatory effect from the acupuncture treatments. The researchers concluded that acupuncture “should be considered as an alternative treatment or non-pharmacological therapy for pain associated with RP (Raynaud’s phenonmenon).”
Acupunct Med doi:10.1136/acupmed-2011-010107. Raynaud's phenomenon, Cytokines and Acupuncture: a case report. Folashade S Omole, James S Lin, Tehching Chu, Charles M Sow, Anthony Flood, Michael David Powell.
1Department of Family Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, East Point, Georgia, USA.
2Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.