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Effect of Acupuncture on Sensorimotor Function and Mobility in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Pilot Study


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease of the central nervous system that can result in highly variable effects on mobility and sensorimotor function. Persons with MS (pwMS) often use complementary and alternative approaches, such as acupuncture, to address these symptoms. However, studies of acupuncture on these symptoms have been hindered by methodologic flaws, which have limited the ability to draw conclusions about its efficacy. The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of an acupuncture intervention on a wide range of sensorimotor and mobility measurements in pwMS.

Using a randomized crossover design, subjects experienced acupuncture or a no treatment control condition twice weekly for 4 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout period, and then crossed over to the other condition for 4 weeks. Strength, sensation, spasticity, gait, and balance were measured for all subjects, both before and after each condition.

Seven of the 12 subjects who started the program completed all phases. No subjects experienced adverse effects. No statistically significant changes were observed in the gait or balance measures. Small statistically significant changes were observed in upper extremity strength. Sensation and spasticity were unaffected.

The variability of MS suggests that a wide array of testing procedures be utilized, however, this may have led to difficulty with completing all phases of the study. Acupuncture did not result in changes in mobility in pwMS. Some improvements in upper extremity strength were observed. It is unclear whether these changes represent the effect of acupuncture or the inherent variability of MS.

Herbert Karpatkin, Barbara Siminovich-Blok, Jaya Rachwani, Zabrina Langer, Stephanie Winsor

J Integr Complement Med. 2023 Jan;29(1):42-49. doi: 10.1089/jicm.2022.0610. Epub 2022 Nov 11.

Link: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jicm.2022.0610?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed

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