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How Effective is Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Patients the world over have used acupuncture for multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms, and studies have shown that most experience some level of improvement with repeated visits. This generally works best when used in conjunction with other therapies, including some holistic approaches and conventional methods. In many large studies, the majority of patients saw marked improvement in muscle tone, coordination, bladder control, and muscle pain.

Acupuncture works by opening pathways between nerves and body systems and the brain, so that they can communicate more effectively. MS affects these pathways and creates substances that lead to blockages, resulting in ineffective communication between muscles and the brain. This causes lack of coordination and eventually loss of muscle tone. Some patients lose the ability to walk unassisted, and others become entirely wheelchair bound.

The use of acupuncture for multiple sclerosis dates back around 2,000 years, even before MS had an official clinical name. It has proven effective for most patients, although the degree of improvement varies. Acupuncture has shown to be most beneficial to those who are newly diagnosed, although many long-time sufferers have also shown drastic improvements. Some studies have shown formerly wheelchair bound patients to regain their ability to walk, and many others have reported dramatic decreases in overall pain.

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Most patients who use acupuncture for multiple sclerosis also implement various other treatment techniques, and it is generally most effective when used in combination with other alternative therapies as well as with MS approved medications. Additionally, different things may work for different people, so acupuncture is more beneficial for some patients than for others.

It should also be noted that the use of acupuncture for multiple sclerosis treatment is not intended to be a cure. There is no cure for MS, although many times patients will go into remission for months or even years at a time. For relatively healthy individuals, the prognosis is positive, as there are various treatments and medications which can prolong a person’s mobile years, sometimes by decades.

Anyone who wishes to try acupuncture for the treatment of MS symptoms should speak with a professional who has training in performing this procedure. Not only can an inexperienced practitioner offer little benefit, it is possible to cause injury during needle insertion. If there are no local acupuncture professionals nearby, acupressure may be another alternative that can be performed at home. This implements many of the same techniques, but instead of inserting needles, it uses only firm pressure applied to certain areas of the body.

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