Tag Archives: Acupuncture

Pincushion Part 2, Acupuncture and MS

Early on in my MS journey I had my first experience with acupuncture.  At the time, I was not yet diagnosed.  I just had an occasional odd tingling in my left thigh.  At the urging of my wife, I agreed to try her acupuncturist for a sore back and neck that was plaguing me.  I went a few times and while it did nothing for my back, I curiously noticed that the tingling sensation in my leg disappeared for a few days each time.

Fast forward to today and we now know that the tingling was an early symptom of multiple sclerosis.  My disease has progressed a bit in that walking normally is becoming increasingly more difficult.  I thought that it might be time to give the needles another try and see if it can help with my current symptoms.

The acupuncturist said that to give it a fair shot, I would need to go once or twice a week for at least six sessions.  I agreed to that plan.  Meanwhile, I researched online and found a study that claimed to have success with MS by using a certain type of scalp acupuncture.  I didn’t mention this to the acupuncturist, but apparently he was aware of it, or at least found it online like I did.

In my first of six sessions, he performed many of the standard spots like he had a year earlier.  Unfortunately, there was no effect.  For sessions two through six, he focused on the scalp and gradually increased the intensity of the treatment each time.

The typical acupuncture does not particularly hurt.  In fact, it is somewhat relaxing.  The scalp acupuncture, on the other hand, hurts a lot.  For the typical, you can barely feel it as he flicks the needles into you.  For the scalp, he pushes them in, guiding them up under the skin.  In later sessions he would also twist and move them around for more stimulation.  Ouch!

I had mixed feelings.  I really wanted this to help with my disability, even if only temporarily.  However, the thought of having to be tortured like this once or twice a week, possibly forever, wasn’t terribly appealing.

Four weeks and six sessions later, I had no change in my symptoms at all.  I was disappointed but at the same time relieved at not having to get my head stabbed anymore.  I have no doubt that acupuncture may work for some people with some conditions.  For me though, the book is closed.  Onward to something else.

To be a pincushion or not? – Acupuncture and MS

Skeptical, I was.  To say the least.  But my wife kept insisting.

Understand that my wife’s opinion comes with a great deal of credibility.  Without giving up too much personal information, I will share that she is a research scientist with a phd.  If you knew her resume, you would expect her to be the last person to believe that something like acupuncture would work.  But, she does.

My wife has seen acupuncturists for years.  She will be the first to tell you that the vast majority of them are bs and ineffective.  However, she feels very strongly that if you can find one of the few that are the real deal, it works very well.

Ann Romney has gotten press that she treats her MS with acupuncture, reflexology and horse back riding.  One survey that I saw said that 25% of people with MS try acupuncture.  I am still not so sure about it.

While I wasn’t about to consult any type of alternative practitioner with something as important as my possible MS, I finally agreed to give it a shot with something less critical.  I occasionally suffer from a sore back like many men my age.  Would sticking needles in me actually help that?  I doubted it.  But I was willing to try it to make my wife happy.

I went to the acupuncturist a few times.  I regret to say that it didn’t really help my back.  Coincidentally though, my tingling leg stopped tingling for a number of days after each visit!  I asked my neurologist if this was possible, could acupuncture actually work?  His response was that sometimes the brain works in mysterious ways.  He has had patients that he felt would not be prone to suggestibility at all, that found acupuncture very effective.  Others found that it did nothing.  No one really has proof as to why it works, when it works.

Acupuncturists believe that an energy or life force called chi flows through the body along paths called meridians.  If there is blockage, the chi will not flow smoothly and a person can experience illness and other problems.  By stimulating specific spots with the needles, the blockages can be released, returning free flow of the chi.

I am not buying it.  I think that our understanding of biology has progressed well beyond that philosophy.  That having been said, the needles did have an effect on my tingling, placebo or otherwise.

The bottom line is that my jury is still out regarding the benefits of acupuncture for treating multiple sclerosis.  I don’t believe that it can stop your immune system from attacking your myelin.  I do believe that it has the potential of helping  someone manage their symptoms.  More to follow as I am sure that I will try it again in the future.