Archive for the 'Acupuncture' Category

Why acupuncture aids spinal recovery

Does the placebo effect affect rats?

from the New Scientist written by Wendy Zuckerman

Rats with damaged spines can walk again thanks to acupuncture. But it’s not due to improvements in their energy flow or “chi”. Instead, the ancient treatment seems to stop nerve cell death by reducing inflammation.

Acupuncture’s scientific credentials are growing. Trials show that it improves sensory and motor functions in people with spinal cord injuries.

To find out why, Doo Choi and his colleagues at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, damaged the spines of 75 rats. One-third were given acupuncture in two locations: Shuigou – between their snout and mouth, and Yanglingquan – in the upper hind leg. Others received no treatment or “simulated acupuncture”.

After 35 days, the acupuncture group were able to stand at a steeper incline than the others and walk better. Staining their paws with ink revealed that their forelimb-hindlimb coordination was fairly consistent and that there was very little toe dragging, whereas the control groups still dragged their feet.

Inflamed spines

The rats in the acupuncture group also had less nerve cell death and lower levels of proteins known to induce inflammation after spinal cord injury and make neural damage worse.

One explanation is that sharp needles prompt a stress response that dampens down inflammation. In humans, the inflammation that follows spinal cord injury is known to be responsible for nerve cell death.

Zhen Zheng of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia says the results are “very encouraging”. But she says we don’t yet know if the results will apply to humans.

For example, the acupuncture treatment on the rats was given almost immediately after injury, but most patients don’t seek acupuncture until at least three months after damage to their spines.

Journal reference: Neurobiology of Disease, DOI: 10.1016/j.nbd.2010.04.003

via Why acupuncture aids spinal recovery – health – 26 April 2010 – New Scientist.

On pregnancy pain acupuncture, exercise, & pillows

From the Cochrane Review’s point of view the results were more suggestive than conclusive but given the very low risks of mild exercise, pillows and acupuncture, it is reasonable to give these approaches a try if you are experiencing pelvic or low back pain during pregnancy.

ScienceDaily (May 7, 2007) — Stretching exercises, special pillows and acupuncture could help relieve back and pelvic pain that often occur during pregnancy, according to an updated review.

As pregnancy progresses, back and pelvic pain can interfere with daily activities such as carrying groceries, cleaning and walking, and can disrupt work or sleep also. More than two-thirds of pregnant women experience back pain and almost one-fifth report pelvic pain.

“When you’re pregnant, your center of gravity is off. You have to arch your back to balance this huge tummy, so you end up with extra strain on your back and pelvic muscles,” said Victoria Pennick, M.H.Sc., registered nurse and lead review author.

Women who participated in a variety of intervention programs recognized some relief of back and pelvic pain, said Pennick, a senior clinical research project manager at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto…

…In one study of women with both back and pelvic pain, 60 percent who received acupuncture reported less intense pain, compared to 14 percent of women who did not. The study found no complications associated with the use of acupuncture in pregnant women.

On average, women who followed through with the pelvic or back pain interventions experienced some pain relief and reported less need for pain medication, physical therapy and posture-support belts.  Much more at the link.

Exercise, Acupuncture Help Women Turn Their Backs On Pregnancy Pain.

Acupuncture Relieves Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Just yesterday, I had a pregnant patient come with pelvic and low back pain which radiated down her legs.  Fortunately, she responded very well and when she left an hour later, the pain was minimal.  Of course, I provided her with some home remedy instructions.

 

ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2005) — March 17, 2005 — Acupuncture and strengthening exercises help relieve pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy and are effective complements to standard treatment, finds a study published online by the BMJ today.

Pelvic girdle pain is a common complaint among pregnant women worldwide, but no cure exists.

Researchers in Sweden identified 386 pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain. Women were randomly divided into three groups; one received standard treatment (a pelvic belt and a home exercise programme), another received standard treatment plus acupuncture, and the third received standard treatment plus stabilising exercises to improve mobility and strength.

Pain levels were recorded every morning and evening using a recognised scale and all women were assessed by an independent examiner at the end of the treatment period.

After treatment, both the acupuncture group and the stabilising exercise group had less pain than the standard group in the morning and in the evening. Reduction of pelvic girdle pain as assessed by the independent examiner was greatest in the acupuncture group.

Acupuncture or stabilising exercises as an adjunct to standard treatment offers clear clinical advantages over standard treatment alone for reduction of pain in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain, say the authors.

Acupuncture was superior to stabilising exercises in this study, they conclude.

Acupuncture Relieves Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy.

Acupuncture for post-viral infection loss of smell

This bit of research only involved 15 subjects and so proof of effectiveness is not strong but it is suggestive of effectiveness.

 

ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2010) — Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA), where very thin needles are used to stimulate specific points in the body to elicit beneficial therapeutic responses, may be an effective treatment option for patients who suffer from persistent post- viral olfactory dysfunction (PVOD), according to new research in the April 2010 issue of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery….

15 patients presenting to an outpatient clinic with PVOD were treated by TCA in 10 weekly 30-minute sessions. Subjective olfactometry was performed using the Sniffin’ Sticks test set. Treatment success was defined as an increase of at least six points in the sticks test scores. The effects of TCA were compared to matched pairs of people suffering from PVOD who had been treated with vitamin B complex. Eight patients treated with TCA improved olfactory function, compared with two treated with vitamin B complex.

more via Acupuncture may be an effective treatment for post-viral infection loss of smell.

Back pain relieved by acupuncture

Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/
090511164228.htm

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2009) — Three types of acupuncture therapy—an individually tailored program, standard therapy and a simulation involving toothpicks at key acupuncture points—appear more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, according to a new report.

Back pain costs Americans at least $37 billion annually, according to background information in the article. Many patients with this condition are unsatisfied with traditional medical care and seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. “Back pain is the leading reason for visits to licensed acupuncturists, and medical acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain,” the authors write.

Several recent studies have suggested that simulated acupuncture, or shallow needling on parts of the body not considered key acupuncture points, appear as effective as acupuncture involving penetrating the skin. To expand on these results, Daniel C. Cherkin, Ph.D., of Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and colleagues compared four different types of treatment in a randomized clinical trial involving 638 adults (average age 47) with chronic low back pain at Group Health in Seattle and Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland.

During the seven-week treatment period, 157 participants received 10 acupuncture treatments in a manner individually prescribed by a diagnostic acupuncturist; 158 underwent a standardized course of acupuncture treatments considered effective by experts for low back pain; 162 received 10 sessions of simulated acupuncture, in which practitioners used a toothpick inside of an acupuncture needle guide tube to mimic the insertion, stimulation and removal of needles; and 161 received usual care. Participants reported changes in their symptoms and in the amount of dysfunction caused by their back pain by phone after eight, 26 and 52 weeks.

“Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain,” the authors write. At the eight-week follow-up, 60 percent of the participants receiving any type of acupuncture (individualized, standardized or simulated) experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 percent of those receiving usual care. At the one-year follow-up, 59 percent to 65 percent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement in function compared with 50 percent of the usual care group.

Several possible explanations exist for the effectiveness of simulated acupuncture, the authors note. Superficial stimulation of acupuncture points may directly stimulate physiological processes that result in reduced pain and improved function. Alternatively, the improvement may be due to another aspect of the treatment experience, such as interaction with the therapist or a belief that acupuncture will be helpful. “These findings raise questions about acupuncture’s purported mechanisms of action,” they write. “It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or non-specific effects.”

“Our results have important implications for key stakeholders,” they conclude. “For clinicians and patients seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for a condition for which conventional treatments are often ineffective, various methods of acupuncture point stimulation appear to be reasonable options, even though the mechanism of action remains unclear. Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care.”

This trial was funded through a National Institutes of Health Cooperative Agreement with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The sponsor (NIH), though its project officer, co-author Dr. Khalsa, was involved in the analysis and interpretation of data and review and approval of the manuscript. Lhasa OMS Inc., Weymouth, Mass., donated the Seirin acupuncture needles used in this study.


Journal reference:

  1. Cherkin et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009; 169 (9): 858 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.65
Adapted from materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals.

Acupuncture helps “dry mouth”

Acupuncture Eases Radiation-induced Dry Mouth In Cancer Patients

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090420151232.htm

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — Twice weekly acupuncture treatments
relieve debilitating symptoms of xerostomia – severe dry mouth – among
patients treated with radiation for head and neck cancer, researchers
from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report in
the current online issue of Head & Neck.

Xerostomia develops after the salivary glands have been exposed to
repeated doses of therapeutic radiation. People who have cancers of
the head and neck typically receive large cumulative doses, rendering
the salivary glands incapable of producing adequate saliva, said Mark
S. Chambers, M.S., D.M.D., a professor in the Department of Dental
Oncology. Saliva substitutes, lozenges and chewing gum bring only
temporary relief, and the commonly prescribed medication, pilocarpine,
has short-lived benefits and bothersome side effects of its own.