Acupuncture is an element of traditional Chinese medicine. This says that health depends on the body's life force or energy flow (qi - pronounced chee). Qi moves in a smooth and balanced way through the body along paths called meridians. If qi becomes unbalanced or blocked, illness may result. Using fine needles at key points on the body, the acupuncturist can trigger the body's own healing response and help restore natural balance.
There is little research into acupuncture and MS. An American survey of 1,000 people found that about one in five had used acupuncture, mostly for pain or anxiety. About half also said that fatigue, depression, spasticity and sleep problems improved.
A review looked at research into acupuncture for a range of conditions other than MS. This found some evidence that it could help with some, but not all, types of pain.
Acupuncture is generally safe when provided by an experienced, trained practitioner using sterile single-use needles.
There are several organisations that maintain professional standards for acupuncture in the UK. Each website allows you to search for practitioners.
- British Acupuncture Council
- British Medical Acupuncture Society
- Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
- International Journal of MS Care 2002;4(2):95. Efficacy, safety, and prevalence of acupuncture use among a group of people with MS: a web-based survey.
- Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine 2011;17 (3):187-189. Full article (pdf 513kb) Acupuncture for pain: An overview of Cochrane reviews.
Last reviewed: 30 March 2016
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