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Acupuncture for Restless Legs Syndrome: A Retrospective Case Series


Background: Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a common clinical entity that can cause considerable discomfort and negatively affect quality of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does not recognize a specific pattern of this disease, but some reports have been published in which acupuncture has been shown to have a positive effect.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on patients with RLS.

Design, Setting, and Patients: A retrospective case series of 30 Italian adults (19 women and 11 men) aged 29-82 years, all with RLS. Patients were treated between December 1996 and December 2007. Patients were treated according to the following pattern: Yang Deficiency (ST 25 and ST 37), Qi Stagnation (LR 1 and GB 34), Yang Stagnation (GB 32 and TB 12), and Yin and Yang Stagnation (GB 32 and LR 6). A total of 12 sessions were performed twice a week for the first 2 months, then once a week for the third month.

Main Outcome Measures: Response to treatment was assessed by comparing the number of episodes of RLS per week, number of sleepless nights, and a visual analog scale (VAS) score for sleep quality before and after acupuncture. Global patient satisfaction with the treatment was assessed via a structured interview.

Results: Yin and Yang Stagnation was present in 13 patients (aged 29-47 years), and RLS improved or disappeared in 12 patients up to 6 months after acupuncture treatment. The other patterns were present in 17 patients (aged 76-82 years), and RLS improved or disappeared in 10 patients after acupuncture treatment. Sleepless nights decreased from a mean of 3.9/wk at baseline to 2/wk at the end of treatment, and to 1/wk at 6-month follow-up. Global patient satisfaction at the end of treatment was excellent in 24% of patients, good in 35% of patients, and unsatisfactory in 41% of patients.

Conclusions: Acupuncture may have a positive effect on RLS and the effect can be long-lasting. However, further research is necessary, especially given the mixed patient satisfaction in this study.

Resource: Carlo Di Stanislao, Rosa Brotzu, Giovanna Franconi


Medical Acupuncture. March 2009, 21(1): 63-65. doi:10.1089/acu.2009.0598.

Published in Volume: 21 Issue 1: February 26, 2009

Dr. Shan Kong | 2009-12-08 | comments(0) | Categories:Study |

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