Scalp acupuncture is a simple, safe and effective adjunct to many other therapies. It is useful for stress management, post-traumatic stress, neurological conditions and emotional health, as well as the nervous system and pain management.
The development of this form of treatment has moved forward extensively since the 1970s in China and Japan, having gained very favourable outcomes in emotional health issues, pain management and nervous system disorders.
This method is based on elementary functional neuroanatomy, and has nothing to do with traditional Chinese medicine. If part of the brain is damaged, for instance by a stroke, then the scalp is stimulated over the damaged area of the brain. All the scalp points are representations of the underlying functional areas of the brain. It therefore follows that the most common use of scalp acupuncture will be in diseases in which there is brain damage, such as strokes or severe head injuries, although this method can be used for a variety of other conditions. Scalp acupuncture is particularly useful for reducing chronic muscle spasm.
Scalp acupuncture is used for a large variety of medical conditions and is particularly helpful for chronic and acute pain and neurological problems such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Meniere’s disease, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s. This scalp treatment method has also been used for more difficult conditions such as spinal cord injury, Guillain-Barre, and motor neuron diseases. Although scalp acupuncture isn’t a cure for these conditions, it is helpful in reducing some of the related symptoms. Benefits may include muscle relaxation and reduction of pain due to spasticity, cognitive improvements, increased mobility, reduction in tremors, and improved use of hands and legs.
Some of the conditions which may benefit from scalp acupuncture:
- Bell’s Palsy
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Meniere’s syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Motor Neuron Diseases
- Pain, chronic or acute- back, neck, shoulder, foot, arm, leg
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Improvements will vary depending on the individual, the medical condition, and the duration and severity of the disease. In many cases, pain is often reduced within a few minutes after beginning the treatment. In some situations, several treatments may be necessary for pain reduction.
It is important to sterilize the skin before inserting the needle.. Hair is not usually a problem and it can be parted to expose the scalp, but if long-term scalp therapy is required then it may be easier to shave the scalp area.
We usually insert a 2-inch or 3-inch needle into the scalp area, running it down the subcutaneous layer. This requires a great deal of dexterity with an acupuncture needle and it is easier to use several short consecutively connecting needles over the scalp area.
The needle should be rotated without any lifting and thrusting movement. In general the more a scalp area is stimulated the better is the result, the Chinese recommending that the needle be rotated manually at a frequency greater than 200 times per minute for about five minutes. This should be repeated two or three times during a twenty to thirty minutes period of treatment. Many Chinese use electrical stimulation over the scalp areas, the stimulator being used at high frequency (about 3000Hz), and maximum tolerable intensity, for about twenty minutes. When the scalp is stimulated the patient often feels a burning sensation in the scalp and a dull, numb or distended feeling in the relevant area.
if there is motor pathology in a specific area then use the relevant motor area. This rule applies to all pathology therefore a clear neurological diagnosis of which area(s) is affected is essential.
The contra lateral area on the scalp must be used but, in general, better results are obtained if the affected area is stimulated bilaterally.
Routine medical management should always be carried out first, and if scalp acupuncture is indicated then it should be used to aid recovery and deal with the chronic squeal.
Sometimes strokes respond very quickly, but not always. It may be necessary to give several courses of scalp acupuncture. As with all types of acupuncture keep treating the patient as long as there is improvement, and then give a few more treatments to consolidate. Each course involves about eight treatments and there should be a gap of at least a week between courses. The treatments should be given daily or every other day.