Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Neck Pain Relief Restores Circulation

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Acupuncture is effective for treating cervical spondylosis of vertebral artery type (CSA). This disorder is characterized by pain caused by intervertebral disc degeneration plus insufficient vertebral-basal artery blood supply caused by the degenerative changes in the cervical spine.

Electroacupuncture on Jiaji acupoints has demonstrated clinical efficacy in a recent study conducted by researchers from the Affiliated Hospital to the Heilongjiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The researchers compared the effects of alprostadil injections to electroacupuncture in addition to alprostadil injections in patients with CSA. The results indicate that the integrated protocol has a greater effect on improving the hemodynamics and hemorheology of the vertebrobasilar artery, increasing the quality of life for CSA patients. [1] Although alprostadil is commonly used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction; however, off-label uses include the treatment of leg ischemia, angiospastic disorders, Raynaud’s, and diabetic neuropathy.

The total efficacy rate of the integrative model was 90.74%, while the rate of the standard biomedical monotherapy group was 74.07%. The efficacy rates were calculated based on the following factors: patients’ hemodynamic indices of the left vertebral artery (LVA), right vertebral artery (RVA), and basilar artery (BA); patients’ blood rheological indexes, including high blood viscosity (HBV), low blood viscosity (LBV), plasma viscosity (PV), and fibrinogen (PF) levels. All these figures presented improvements upon completion of treatment, with more notable progress shown in the integrative group.

From January 2019 to June 2021, 108 CSA patients were included in this study. The patients were randomly divided into an alprostadil monotherapy control group and an alprostadil-electropuncture group, with 54 patients in each group. There were no significant statistical distinctions between the two groups at the outset of the trial. All patients were between 21 and 33 years old. Average age of the control group was 41.97 ±7.86 years while that of the integrated group was 42.47 ±7.06. Course of CSA condition was similar, at 21.38 ±6.32 and 22.09 ±7.06 respectively. The control group comprised 23 males and 31 females. The integrative group comprised 21 males and 33 related females.

Patients’ X-ray scans presented various degrees of cervical curvature disorder. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) indicated abnormalities in cervical blood flow. None of the patients entering the study had undergone any relevant treatment within one month prior to the clinical trial. For the monotherapy group, a dose of 10 ug of alprostadil injection, diluted in 0.9% sodium chloride, was injected intravenously daily for a total of two weeks.

For the integrative group, electroacupuncture was administered in addition to the alprostadil injection. Patients took a seated position, exposing the neck area. Needles (0.40 mm × 40 mm) were sterilized and inserted by a professional therapist at 0.5 cun to bilateral Jiaji points (C3-C6). The needles were inserted perpendicularly with a depth of 20–50 mm. A mild reinforcing-attenuating manipulation method was applied, with the needles twirled at a speed of over 200 r/min. For each point, the manipulation lasted 1–2 minutes. Then, an electroacupuncture device was attached to the needle ends with the frequency set at 2–5 Hz. A continuous wave was used. For each pair of points opposite to each other, one point was connected to the positive electrode while the other was linked to the negative electrode. Intensity level was adjusted to patients’ tolerance thresholds. Needle retention time was 30 minutes. The treatment course lasted two weeks. The results from this study show that acupuncture improves the efficacy of alprostadil injection treatments for patients with CSA.

[1] Zhu Jiamin, Sun Zhongren, Cui Yang, Yin Hongna, Clinical Observation on Electro-acupuncture at Cervical Jiaji Points Combined with Alprostadil for Cervical Spondylosis of Vertebral Artery Type, Journal of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, July, Vol. 39, No. 7.


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