Background: Multiple sclerosis is considered a complex and heterogeneous disease. Approximately 85% of patients with multiple sclerosis indicate impaired gait as one of the major limitations in their daily life. Acupuncture studies found a reduction of spasticity and improvement of fatigue and imbalance in patients with multiple sclerosis, but there is a lack of studies regarding gait.
Design: We designed a study of acupuncture treatment, according to the Heidelberg model of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to investigate if acupuncture can be a useful therapeutic strategy in patients with gait impairment in multiple sclerosis of relapsing-remitting type. The sample consisted of 20 individuals with diagnosis of multiple sclerosis of relapsing-remitting type. Gait impairment was evaluated by the 25-foot walk test.
Results: The results showed differences in time to walk 25 feet following true acupuncture. In contrast, there was no difference in time to walk 25 feet following sham acupuncture. When using true acupuncture, 95% of cases showed an improvement in 25-foot walk test, compared with 45% when sham acupuncture was done.
Conclusions: Our study protocol provides evidence that acupuncture treatment can be an attractive option for patients with multiple sclerosis, with gait impairment.
Keywords: acupuncture; gait dysfunction; multiple sclerosis.