New research concludes that acupuncture “significantly improves the quality of life” for multiple sclerosis patients. Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the brain and spinal cord that causes a wide range of symptoms including pain, numbness, visual problems, speech problems, cognitive impairment, muscle spasms and depression. Acupuncture was shown to reduce both pain and depression. In addition, acupuncture significantly improved mobility in the eyes.
Another group in the study received sham acupuncture, which only simulates acupuncture therapy. The sham acupuncture group did not show sustained improvement in pain, depression and eye mobility. By contrast, the true acupuncture group showed improvement in all three areas and also demonstrated an overall improvement in the quality of life. Other notable improvements in the acupuncture group included improved sleep and appetite. Acupuncture also reduced incontinence, constipation and leg spasms.
All participants in the study, in both the sham and true acupuncture groups, were receiving care under a doctor including the immunomodulatory drugs interferon-beta and glatiramer acetate. No subject in the study received acupuncture prior to the investigation and all subjects were randomized into a true acupuncture group and a sham acupuncture group.
The true acupuncture group received treatment at acupoints ST36 (Zusanli), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), LI4 (Hegu), LI11 (Quchi) and Yintang (EX-HN3). Electroacupuncture was applied to all points, except for Yintang, at 4 Hz with a pulse width of 0.5ms. The sham acupuncture group was needled one centimeter laterally to the true acupuncture points at a superficial needle insertion depth of less than 0.2cm with no electrical stimulation.
An interesting clinical result presented during the investigation. The sham acupuncture group showed temporary pain reduction. However, only the true acupuncture group demonstrated pain reduction measured at six months following the acupuncture treatments.
Impact of electroacupuncture on quality of life for patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis under treatment with immunomodulators: A randomized study. Juan G Quispe-Cabanillas, Alfredo Damasceno, Felipe Glehn, Carlos O Brandão, Benito P Damasceno, Wanderley D Silveira and Leonilda M Santos. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:209 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-209. Published: 5 November 2012.