Spinal Cord Injury Sufferers Find Pain Relieving Benefits of Acupuncture
by Dr. Jay Sordean
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It would be wonderful to be able to report that a person who suffered a spinal cord injury was able to get up and walk or return to a normal life following Acupuncture treatment. Unfortunately this is not the case. However, a recent study review conducted at the Mayo Clinic does reveal the positive effects of Acupuncture in helping a person with such a devastating injury to achieve better body functions as well as physical relief from pain caused by the condition.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 12,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI), adding to the total of some 250,000 who are living with the condition. Beyond various degrees of paralysis, many of these individuals have sensory loss, endure chronic pain, have bladder and bowel control difficulties and have additional skin and bedsore problems as a result of their immobility.
Researchers Peter T. Dorsher and Peter M. McIntosh of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., undertook a review of 10 separate studies to determine both the short- and long-term benefits of Acupuncture for a person with SCI. The goal was to see if Acupuncture could serve as a useful and beneficial treatment for a victim and to determine if it could enhance body function to make a person more comfortable or even contribute to a more positive life.
What they discovered may not be earthshaking, but it does provide enough positive evidence to encourage a person with SCI to seek help through Acupuncture. “There is evidence that the use of electro-acupuncture in acute spinal cord injured subjects may significantly improve their long-term neurologic recovery including motor, sensory and bowel/bladder function. Acupuncture may even improve neurologic function in spinal cord injured individuals with chronic neurogenic (Starting with or having to do with the nerves or the nervous system) bladder and may also be a useful adjunct in the management of their chronic neuropathic musculoskeletal pain conditions.”
For a person whose lifestyle has change dramatically as a result of injury and especially someone who needs round-the-clock care to maintain life, the fact that Acupuncture can possibly offer some help and relief should be widely known. Certainly there is no guarantee that Acupuncture can help, but the fact that it has helped others as outlined in these studies should make it a treatment to be sought out and tried.
Researchers added this piece of information regarding the function of Acupuncture: “The Acupuncture effects appear to result from stimulation of appropriate spinal cord segmental levels or peripheral nerves. The known release of endogenous opioids* at the spinal cord level produced by Acupuncture treatment and electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves provides a plausible mechanism for its effects in pain relief and limiting SCI after acute trauma.”
The results of this study were originally published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
*Endogenous opioid, an opiate-like substance, such as an endorphin, produced by the body. Opioid, denoting naturally occurring opiate-like effects by interacting with opiate receptors of cell membranes.
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