By Mrs Daisy Cam, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield
This project was the winner of the MS Academy MasterClass Project Award for Autumn 2018.
Up to 68% of people with MS suffer with pain (1) and despite new medications and drug regimens there does not seem to be any single treatment that works. (2) Acupuncture has been used for over 5000 years but it’s only over the last 40 years it has become popular in the west. Modern imaging techniques have demonstrated changes in brain activity (whilst having acupuncture) particularly those areas responsible for the processing of pain and as we learn more about it, the possibilities of using acupuncture alongside orthodox medicine increase.
My interest in complementary therapies started many years ago when working in Oncology when I witnessed the benefits patients had from receiving aromatherapy and massage. My interest has continued and when my patients spoke about the benefits of acupuncture that they had noticed I decided to pursue it. I trained with the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) in 2009 and have been running a monthly acupuncture clinic for MS patients that suffers with pain in any form ever since.
This year I undertook a service evaluation of the acupuncture clinic, I had 53 Reponses.
The results in brief (see presentation for more detail)
The average length the patients had been receiving acupuncture was 4.4 years. Only 2 out of the 53 patients had pain in one site, most had between 5 and 9 different sites of pain. The average percentage of relief of their pain was 62-70% and the duration of relief was 4.7 weeks, 6 patients reduced their analgesia a lot, 11 reduced a little. 20 patients slept better and 48 had an improved feeling of wellbeing, Both the Gad7 and PHQ9 scores were lower than expected. In conclusion acupuncture is a cheap, effective treatment that helps with MS pain.
As far as I am aware I am the only MS Nurse to offer this treatment in a MS clinic setting and my patients find it very beneficial. Acupuncture is not commissioned through Neurology so the patients have to be seen by the pain team first before being referred to me. I have a good working relationship with the pain specialist nurse who initially mentored me and has resulted in better cross departmental liason.