Acupuncture May Not Help Stroke Patients

Works against pain, but there's no
relief of stroke symptoms by needles
© Hemera

“The results of the systematic review are really surprising to me,” said lead author Hongmei Wu, M.D., of the West China Hospital in Si Chuan. “In China, acupuncture has been well accepted by Chinese patients and is widely used for stroke rehabilitation.”

The reviewers analysed five randomised controlled clinical trials that included a total of 368 patients who ranged in age from 24 to 86 years. The patients suffered from either ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke in the subacute (one or three months since onset) or chronic (more than three months since onset) phases. Four studies were conducted in China and one was performed in the United States.

Meridian points were established in ancient acupuncture as areas mapped on the body in 14 specific zones to treat disorders and diseases. Of these major meridian zones, one corresponds to each of the twelve inner organs, one to the spine and one along the abdomen. Trigger points, however, are spots on the body that are associated with muscle groups.

Although there was some overall improvement after acupuncture treatment, the Cochrane reviewers said this result needs to be “interpreted with caution” due to the insufficient number and general poor quality of the clinical trials.

“From the available evidence, we found that stroke patients do experience some benefits from acupuncture therapy,” said Wu. “But most studies are poor in methodological quality, so the continued recommendation for acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation is uncertain.” The reviewers concluded that large, methodologically sound trials are “definitely needed” to confirm or disprove the available evidence, said Wu.; Source: Cochrane Collaboration