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A to Z of MS

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A to Z of MS Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a complementary treatment, used alongside more convential approaches. Acupuncture is used to treat a number of symptoms and seems to offer short-term benefits for some poeple.

Acupuncture involves using fine needles to stimulate invisible lines of energy (called meridians) running beneath the surface of the body. According to Chinese philosophy, health is dependent on the body's motivating energy (qi - pronounced chee) moving in a smooth and balanced way through these meridians. If this becomes unbalanced then illness may result. By inserting fine needles the acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore natural balance.

There is little research into acupuncture and multiple sclerosis, though two surveys have been published. A survey of 1000 people by the Rocky Mountain MS Center reported that about 20% or respondents had used acupuncture, mostly for pain or anxiety. About half also reported improvements in fatigue, depression, spasticity and insomnia. Although well tolerated, about 4% reported new symptoms and a similar numer the appearance of a new symptom following treatment.

A Canadian survey of 217 people with MS found similar results, with about two thirds of respondents reporting short-term beneficial effects on pain, spasticity, bladder and bowel problems, coordination and sleep problems. A few people reported a worsening of their symptoms.


Stewart TM, Bowling AC.
Efficacy, safety, and prevalence of acupuncture use among a group of people with MS: a web-based survey.
International Journal of MS Care 2002;4(2):95.

Wang Y, et al.
A pilot study of the use of alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis patients with a special focus on acupuncture.
Neurology 1999;52:A550.

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