Can Traditional Chinese Medicine help in the healing of Spinal Cord Injury?

Updated on September 30, 2020

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is a common issue across the globe including the US. In the year 2019, more than 17000 cases of SCI were reported in America.  The medical approaches to achieving recovery aren’t the best but can Traditional Chinese Medicine help in the healing of Spinal Cord Injury? 

If you or any of your family/friends have suffered through a neurological mishap (SCI, stroke, etc.), then we recommend you to check out Flint Rehab as they offer loads of equipment for recovery.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help

Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient branch of medicine and also a more neglected one. The main divisions of TCM include acupressure and acupuncture.

Acupuncture has proven to be more effective in the management of Spinal Cord Injury Patients, so in this article, we shall discuss Acupuncture as a treatment option.

In addition to the above-mentioned procedures, the consumption of Chinese herbs can also be beneficial. Herbs containing curcumin, resveratrol, and epigallocatechin gallate, etc. are effective in the healing injuries of the spinal cord.


Acupuncture is a treatment modality of the Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves inserting very fine (hair-thin) needles into specific points (acupoints) for relief.

Electro-acupuncture is a type of acupuncture that involves inserting electrically charged needles. The amount of current is very small and only causes better stimulation of the nerves.

Qi flow: the essence of TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that well-being and optimal working of the body rely upon the unrestrained flow of Qi (vital energy). Restrictions and imbalances of qi lead to diseases and ailments.

Thus, the Acupuncture technique helps you re-establish the normal flow and heal naturally.

Applications of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is generally used in relieving nerve pains including:

●     low back pain

●     labor pain

●     Dental pain

It is also effective in curing headaches.

A scientific explanation for the working of Acupuncture

The fine needles when inserted, work by stimulating the nerves. The stimulated nerves activate the immune system to release endogenous chemicals that promote the healing process. These stimulated nerves also trigger the brain that regulates stress levels in turn. Both of these processes result in the provision of relief.

Can Acupuncture work in Spinal Cord Injury patients?

Yes, acupuncture can help the Spinal Cord Injury patients in recovery. The Spinal cord Injury is at times divided into Acute and Chronic phases.

The Acute phase is characterized by injury, inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis (death) of nerve cells. In the chronic phase, you may see damages to the myelin sheath of the Spinal cord.

Acupuncture is suspected to provide relief by carrying out these effects:

  1. It decreases oxidative stress and inhibits the progression of inflammation in the acute phase.
  2. It reduces the progression of apoptosis of nerves.
  3. It is also believed that the introduction of needles increases the production of stem cells (cells with regenerative capabilities).

Relief by Acupuncture

Acupuncture provides symptomatic relief from the issues of SCI too.


A study carried out in 2011 concluded that neuropathic pain after SCI is reduced by employing Acupuncture and massage therapy.

Neurogenic bowel

Neurogenic bowel is a complication of the Spinal Cord Injury that results in constipation and other bowel issues. Acupuncture can help in improvement but the evidence supporting this claim is insufficient.

Neurogenic bladder

Another consequence of SCI is a Neurogenic bladder that causes urinary retention and incontinence. If patients undergo Electro-acupuncture therapy for SCI soon, bladder balancing is seen earlier.

Mobility issues and spasticity

The use of acupuncture in Spinal Cord Injury can be beneficial because it can reduce the spasticity of muscles and help improve mobility.

Role of Chinese Herbs in Spinal Cord Injury repair

These ingredients of Chinese herbs help in the healing after Spinal Cord Injury: 


Curcumin (a phenolic compound) of ginger has a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, this compound is associated with improvement in the acute phase of injury.

It also imparts a neuroprotective role.


This chemical found in red grapes and red wine has a potent therapeutic effect in SCI management because it reduces edema and hemorrhage in both gray and white matter of the spinal cord.

Epigallocatechin Gallate (ECGG)

The chemical compound of green tea has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective effects. Therefore, green tea consumption is also helpful in SCI patients.


Spinal Cord Injury is a debilitating condition that causes muscle weakness, spasticity, and pain in the upper body. The use of Traditional Chinese Medicine is advantageous in treating patients of Spinal Cord Injury.

Consumption of Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture therapy has shown to be positive for Spinal Cord Injury patients.

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.