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More Points for Acupuncture as Adjunct Therapy

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

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Traditional Chinese medicine calls for acupuncture to recruit the presence of Qi and blood to areas of disease to encourage healing or cure. Elongated needle therapy is a technique in which deep penetration of acupuncture points reaches beyond traditional filiform needles and applies to diseases of deep nerves, muscles, and ligaments. This study examined the effect of elongated needle or electroacupuncture therapy on a rabbit model of acute surgical and blunt spinal cord injury.

Eighty-four rabbits were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: untreated spinal cord injury model, elongated needle therapy, and control. Animals were euthanized after 5 days of treatment, and spinal cords were compared for histopathologic damage and tested for a cellular death-inducing signaling complex as an indication of apoptosis. Elongated needle therapy had a positive impact on the delayed death of nerve cells from spinal cord injury that can occur secondary to ischemic reperfusion, cord barrier damage, intracellular and extracellular ion disturbance, and free-radical reactions from acute insult. The technique described was associated with significantly less edema and necrosis, less proliferation of glial cells, and less apoptosis-related protein expressions compared with the model group.


Although experimental, this study supported the role of needle therapy in spinal cord injury and healing by demonstrating anticell-death properties. The study attempted to create a new theoretical base for curing spinal cord injury; although this claim may seem hyperbolic, the data presented a substantial basis for what has already been shown in clinical trials—that acupuncture and electroacupuncture are beneficial in canine spinal cord injury (especially in intervertebral disc disease) and can contribute to a quick return to function. Acupuncture should be considered with refractory disc disease or for canine surgery patients as a useful adjunct for neurologic function and analgesia.—Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP, CVA


A brief analysis of traditional Chinese medical elongated needle therapy on acute spinal cord injury and its mechanism. Du M, Chen R, Quan R, et al. EVID BASED COMPL ALT doi:10.1155/2013/828754

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