The Mechanism of ACU Treatment for SCI

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Acupuncture can treat Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and the ACU treatment result is permanent.

In 1979, Tai at the ‘Australia Acupuncture Colleges’ provided one-year acupuncture treatment that allowed an incomplete paraplegia patient to stand and move out of wheelchair. Since then Tai has treated many different types of SCI patients including: complete and incomplete quadriplegia and paraplegia.

Applies acupuncture to treat SCI will achieve better results if done immediately. This means: the SCI patients should attend ACU treatment as soon as possible after SCI (not more than one year from the time of the injury). When the lesion part of the body, skin and muscles have atrophy. It is difficult to be able to achieve the best outcomes with ACU treatment.

This paper provides an over view of some of the current treatment strategies in the east and west and then contrasts these to the author’s research into the provision of ACU in three SCI cases studies: One case of complete paraplegia and two cases of incomplete quadriplegia. All patients attend ACU treatment several months after SCI and in one and half year of ACU treatment they were able to stand and mobile out of wheelchair

Key words: SCI—Spinal cord injury. ACU—Acupuncture.


Spine trauma is defined by traumatic factors damaging the vertebrae (fracture, dislocation or compression). The result of the lesion includes: Spinal cord gray & white column, nerve plexuses, spinal nerves and peripheral nerve effects inferior to the lesion on the vertebral column. Nerve tissues and neural pathways in these areas the functions are lost. The tissues surrounding the vertebral column are also damaged, in which are involved to the skin, ligament, tendon and muscles.

In clinical practice, SCI diagnosis mostly follows an American classification. [1] [2] In the west SCI is regarded as unable to treat.

The Chinese version:

Chinese text considers SCI as the ‘Bi’ or ‘Wei’ syndrome. The treatment follows ‘the twelve muscle regions’. The treatment of diseases according to ‘The Muscle regions’ is mainly indicated in muscle disorders, such as the ‘Bi’ syndrome by contracture, stiffness, spasm and muscular atrophy. In “Miraculous Pivot” it says ‘Where there is pain, there is an acupuncture point.’ That means: needling the local points can treat muscle problems”. [3]

The ancient Chinese text LING-SHU stated that: “There is some illness still not yet able to treat, just because the practitioners have not yet achieved the needle insertion techniques.” [4]

Current SCI Western research:

As a result of this day & age’s speedy lifestyle, it is inevitable that there will be an increasing amount of people who suffer from SCI, thus sustaining severe disabilities.

Currently there are many methods attempting to treat SCI. The western medical researchers are focused on cellular therapies such as; Schwann cells, astrocytes cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, stem cells etc. and therapeutic methods. [5]

As shown in a 2008 study, one factor common to all bilateral organisms (including humans) is a family of secreted signaling molecules called neurotrophins, which regulate the growth and survival of neurons. Zhu et al. identified DNT1, the first neurotrophin found in flies.

In the west there are also lots of clinical trials, research and case study reports in the field of acupuncture managements in SCI. There are also many treatments involved with acupuncture and/or combinations between acupuncture and medication or stem cells attempting to cure the disorder.

Especially the findings of acupuncture clinical practices and research in USA are not variable, “According to The American Acupuncture Associations, acupuncture is not effective and further research is unnecessary”.

However, in the eastern countries such as Japan, Korea, and China, the practitioners regard acupuncture treatment as able to manage SCI, however, the results are also variable.

  1. The essential ACU treatment for SCI is base on LING-SHU and Neurosciences:

ACU treatment of SCI is combination Chinese version and neurosciences knowledge analysis the illnesses and the principal are focuses on needle insertion techniques.

Following is the example:

The Chinese essential criteria of LING-SHU:

  1. Reinforce the deficiency
  2. Reduce the overpower
  3. Release the obstruction
  4. Release blood congestion / improve blood flow (blood nourishes the QI and the QI moves the blood)
  5. The hands and feet ‘FIVE SHU’ points

LING-SHU Clinical practical method:

  1. Reinforce the deficiency:

The needle is inserted into the skin and muscles at the lesion level and inferior to the lesion along vertebral column—GV, JIAJI, and BL meridian points. Needle insertion method is ‘Fire Burning the Mountain’; it is used as a purely reinforcing technique. (Golden needle techniques)

The depth of the point is determined, and mentally divided into three levels: Skin, the side of the muscles and deep into periosteum. The Needle is slowly inserted through the skin, thrust firmly into the first level and lifted gently back to just under the skin. At each of the three levels, the needle is firmly thrust and lifted gently back to just beneath the skin. At each of the three levels, the needle is firmly thrust and gently lifted nine times. On completion, the needle is quickly withdrawn from the third (deepest) and the point is sealed with the fingers.

After needle insertion, MOXA is applies to heat the points and stretch the spine.

These reinforcing needle techniques is activated body healing power: In which stimulate the skin receptors and produce low seal acute inflammation: the body naturally produced cellular in which the body healing cells provided naturally healing powers to heals the wound at the surrounding vertebral column and in the lesion spinal cord. That is the first step in healing SCI—improved sensory neurons recovery.


  1. Reducing muscle spasm (Overpower):

Muscles contraction may cause by local muscles trauma or initiated the lesion of the spine or head scalp injury—interrupted the neural path included sensory neuron, afferent, spinal cord ascending tracts, Central motor nuclei, descending tracts and spinal cord motor neuron and motor end plate.

* The needle is inserted into the skin and the muscle origin, belly and insertion points. The needle is left in the points (retention) for 15 minutes. The needling techniques required combined medical sciences knowledge selected the points and where the sharp is targeted on.

* The treatments of the scalp or spine trauma required needling into the points at the skin and muscles in the involved scalp or spine. Especially where is the trauma tissues point.

* More important is needling into the involved sensitive points, such as KI or PC8 activated the reflexes action to pass though the obstructive neural path.

It also is suggested that this be done without the use of medication.

In body movement, especially in transportation, the patient’s body requires external supported to stabilize the spine. Muscle spasm is frequently caused by instability of the spine and vertebral compression on the spinal nerves that in turn can cause continue damage to the cord.

Releasing the muscle spasm will stop muscles from overstretching the vertebra and alleviate pain symptoms; simultaneously it will also stop continued compression on the cord and spinal nerves.

Medication cannot release these symptoms and heavy dosages of medication only increasing interfere with normal nervous system function.

Immediate stop muscles spasm is a big difficulty in the western medical treatment medication cannot stop muscles contraction in severe muscles contraction cases; western medicine requires tendonsectomy (incision the tendon).

ACU treatment is applies correct needle insertion techniques, without medication can stop the muscles contraction. After stop severe muscles contraction the paraplegia legs will move rapidly, which is demonstrated the healing power of the needles.


  1. Release the obstructive tissues obstructing the neurovascular pathway:

After SCI the wound surrounding the vertebral column may form scar tissues that can interrupt the nerve function and form neuroma interfered the nerve past through. It may do this due to it being so difficult for new nerves to grow through such tissue. Naturally may.

The sharp tip of the needle is inserted into the scars or surrounding the scars. Using lifting and thrusting needle techniques make several holes surrounding the scars. After needling, stretch the local tissues out and release the scars. Needle insertion will improve blood supplies in the local tissues nourishing the nerve recovery and allowed the new nerve growth pass through the scar and function.

Stretching the body part is helps lesion tissues recovery, in body there is stretching power in which is in skin reticular level the connective tissues include fascia and muscles fibers and tendon also involved nerve control. Correct applies needling activated this stretching power can release skin muscles tension elongated muscles length especially releases the scar. Return the uncorrected body posture return to the normal position.


  1. Release blood congestion / improve blood flow (blood nourishes the QI and the QI moves the blood).

In clinical practice, the medical practitioners notice a loss of nerve function in tissues or when the nerve is neurotmesis, the muscles will rapidly atrophy. In western medicine there are not any methods that can achieve or promote a lesion nerve to recover; nerve transplantation is the common method in clinical practice, which is impossible to apply when treating SCI.

The sharp filiform needle is designed to stimulate the sensory neuron, peripheral free nerve ending—the receptors in dermis or spindles in the muscle and tendon. The lifting and thrusting needling method can produce acute seal inflammation. MOXA, heat and slapping the skin can increase blood supply to the skin that will encourage sensory neuron recovery.

The needle stimulating the sensory neuron along with blood supply nourishes the nerve, which is the best natural healing the treatment that will achieve sensory neuron recovery.

In Chinese acupuncture texts ‘Mother & Son Law’ states that: if one reinforce the ‘mother’ then the ‘son’ is automatically reinforce. This fundamental Law is frequently applied in clinical acupuncture practices. If we apply in treating SCI it will also help achieve the best outcome. Turn the Chinese to the West.

After sensory neurons begin active; the sharp fire the sensory neuron activated the action potential regenerated the nerve impulses that can via reflexes mechanism reconnected the lost function neural pathway. In particular sensory neuron send nerve impulses to spinal cord—motor neuron affect to motor end plate and excitation the muscles and move the muscles.


Medical Sciences & ACU Needle Techniques

Following is the example of the medical sciences knowledge combination with ACU needle techniques.



Result of SCI is loss of skin sensation and muscle movement because of a lesion to the nervous system. This is involved to: sensory neuron, neural pathway (afferent ascending tracts, efferent descending tracts), motor center nuclei connection, motor neuron in spinal cord gray column, and the efferent connection with motor end plates. In short, nerve reflex components are lesion and the body parts lose their neural network connection.

There are millions of sensory neurons well preserved in the body wall tissues. ACU treatment the first point of contact in acupuncture needle insertion is the skin: the peripheral nerve ending – receptors – (the sensory neuron in the dermis papillary layer).

A big diameter needle is repeatedly inserted into the skin dermis papillary layer – peripheral nerve ending – (receptors). The needle is stimulated the sensory neurons, fires and activates the action potential that will regenerate nerve impulses if the stimulation is large enough to regenerate nerve impulses and transmit them to CNS.

Nerve impulses:

A nerve impulse is a wave of electrical activity that passes from one end of a neuron to the other.

An action potential is a short-lasting event in which the electrical membrane potential of a cell rapidly rises and falls, following a consistent trajectory. In sensory neurons, action potentials result from an external stimulus. The frequency of action potentials is correlated with the intensity of a stimulus.

If the nerve remains intact; ACU needle insertion fire the sensory neurons the nerve impulses may rapidly regenerated and affect to the spinal cord gray column motor neuron and via efferent connection with motor end plate react to the involved muscle. The impulses excitation the muscles and cause a contraction. This is called Simple Reflex Arc. Within 12 months the acute SCI patient’s nerve pathways usually remain intact and the muscles have not yet atrophy. The ACU treatment can rapidly evoke the nerve impulses reconnected or rebuild the lost function neural path.

The neural path is in spinal cord white column; SCI almost lesion to the white column interrupted the afferent—ascending and efferent—descending tracts functions: the body sensation cannot pass through to the motor central nuclei and the motor neurons does not receive the message from CNS lost voluntary movement.

When the needle stimulation can get through the lesion section of the segmental spinal cord, the nerve impulses will be able via spinal-thalamus ascending tracts to transmit to motor central nuclei (cerebral motor cortex, cerebellum, or reticular formation). The response is via the descending tracts that reacts to the motor neuron in spinal cord, it causes the muscle to contract. Usually it is through ‘Inter-segmental Spinal Cord Reflex’.

Receptors-Thalamus-Cerebral Cortex

Receptors-Thalamus-Cerebral Cortex

Interestingly, a strong needling into sensitive points in plantar such as K1 can observe paraplegia patients—incomplete cord lesion: lifts their leg up to the hip. This is called ‘Flexion Withdraw Reflex’.

This needling methods are strongly pass through the spinal cord white column in which can reconnected the lost functions neural path and improved the muscles functions and patient confidante for ACU treatment recovery.

This flexion withdraw reflex is absented in the case of completed lesion to the cord paraplegia patient because one of the reflex component is lesion. Only when the sensory neurons are recovery the reflex will return.

The correlation of sensory neuron—motor center and lower motor neuron

The correlation of sensory neuron—motor center and lower motor neuron

As the diaphragms reveal the muscle movement is very complicated action. Fundamentally the needle is stimulated to the skin receptors, the tendon spindles or neuromuscular spindles: fire the action potential regenerated the nerve impulses through afferent send to spinal cord white column ascending to the motor central in which involved: Reticular formation, Red nucleus, Vestibular nucleus, Cerebellum, Thalamus affect to Cerebral cortex. When Cerebral cortex received the stimulation would via the descending tract (Corticospinal tract, Rubospinal tract, Vestibular tract, Reticulospinal tract) effect to the anterior gray column cells—motor neuron to motor end plate and produces muscles contraction included: the neck, trunk and lower limb muscles.

Acupuncture needle is stimulated to the skin receptors, muscle and tendon spindles through sensory neurons and afferents send the impulses to Thalamus—Cerebral cortex.

Moxa heat, massages and body stretching is involved Reticular formation—Cerebellum—Thalamus—Cerebral cortex.

Patient eyes observation and ears hearing also through sensory organs transfer to Cerebral cortex. Adequate and sufficiency treatments require activate all those potential to achieve the results.


Five-Shu points

The Five-SHU points on the hands and feet are significance in ACU treatment of SCI, in particular the FIVE-SHU points of the legs (the good needling methods will allow the paraplegic legs to move out of wheelchair).

*** Please remember SCI recovery is continue ACU treatment initially at lesion section of the cord and will gradually move down to the leg and foot. Not of necessity is only dependent upon FIVE-SHU points can achieves the result.


Muscles Voluntary Movement:

After ACU treatment only when the peripheral nerves are innervated into the muscles, following gentle stretches and exercises (training the Cerebellum to connect with Cerebral motor cortex) will the muscles regain voluntary movement.