Stroke Recovery with Acupuncture

X Ray ImageA stroke is a life-threatening condition involving a problem with blood flow to the brain and the death of sections of brain tissue. A stroke can either be ischemic when a blood clot cuts off circulation to a section of brain tissue, or hemorrhagic when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. A condition similar to a stroke is a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, where blood flow to a section of the brain is temporarily reduced or stopped and can result in stroke-like symptoms. Signs of a stroke in progress include slurred speech, difficulty moving on one side of the body, drooping face, and lack of responsiveness.

Because different areas of the brain can be damaged during a stroke, no two stroke patients are entirely alike. So, treatment for stroke and its after-effects depends on the nature of the symptoms and the time since the stroke occurred. And regardless of whether or not we’re talking about acupuncture, when getting treatment for the effects of stroke, time is critical. Just as stroke itself is life threatening and requires emergency attention, full recovery is more likely the sooner treatment can begin after the stroke has passed.

Stroke Management with Acupuncture
Treatment of stroke with acupuncture depends on the time since the stroke occurred. If the visit is within a couple days from the stroke, acupuncture treatment will be focused on harmonizing blood and lymph circulation to clear out edema and cell debris in the brain matter. For those who start treatment within the first couple weeks to a month after the stroke, treatment changes to focus on promoting neuronal growth, to help the brain create new neural connections and relearn activities lost from the stroke. Acupuncture points in the scalp are more likely to be chosen at this time. And for those who delay their treatment and start after the first month, treatment shifts again – this time focusing on creating new neural connections and helping re-calibrate muscle activity with what neurons have grown. This almost invariably means using electro-acupuncture, which is the running of electricity through inserted acupuncture needles, similar to a TENS unit.

Research on stroke recovery is mixed – perhaps not surprising, given the variation in stroke patients themselves. Studies show that for movement-related problems, acupuncture’s effectiveness depends on timing, just like all other therapies. For other problems that often come with stroke, such as depression or difficulty speaking, acupuncture is definitely effective.

Stroke is one of those conditions where presentation can be so highly variable that a consultation with your acupuncturist is needed to determine proper expectations for treatment. But regardless of the time frame since the incident, acupuncture has its place in helping to improve quality of life, relieve depression, and increase range of motion & control.

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16 comments on “Stroke Recovery with Acupuncture
  1. Morgane says:

    Had a stroke almost three years ago and we can not get my left hand arm to respond to anything, do you think acupuncture could help or has it been too long?

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Morgane,

      I always tell patients that it is better to try than not to try. Nerve regrowth does happen, and I have seen patients regain function of limbs after 2-3 years of no conscious motor control.

      In your case, it may depend on whether or not nerve & circulatory damage has been so extensive that there is muscle atrophy. In my experience if you are at the point of atrophy then recovery is much more difficult.

      Hope this helps. Please feel free to email or set up a consultation if you’d like to discuss more!

  2. AO says:

    Dear Paul,

    A female patient who suffered stroke 2 months ago and has urine continence. She is now relying on daily catheterization. Would acupuncture help her case?


  3. Tina Maria Morrison says:

    I am 32 and i have had a stroke 6 months ago and lost the power of my left arm would accupunture work ❔

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Tina,

      I am sorry to hear about your stroke. I wish you a speedy recovery.

      Acupuncture has been used to help many people recovery movement after a stroke. Treatment with acupuncture after a stroke typically needs to be done quickly and often to have good results, but it works very well together with physical therapy and other rehabilitation services.

      I encourage you to find an acupuncturist in your area who can help you. If you are local to the southern NH area, please consider seeing us.

      Warm regards,
      Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

  4. Isabelle says:

    Hello Paul
    My husband suffered an ischemic stroke in May (5 months ago) aged 47, reason unknown. Although he has recovered well physically, he does complain of a constant tingly and pinching-like feeling all down his right side, from his arm to his leg and foot. Other than this he can move freely and to look at him he looks fit and well without any obvious signs that he has had a stroke, although he is much weaker.
    He has also been left with severe expressive aphasia, both verbal and written, his emotions are very “present” and he is having regular Speech Therapy and is making slow but marked progress. We are not, unfortunately, based near you, but do you think that acupuncture could help diminish the physical tingly feeling he has and his neurone development to recover speech and writing?
    Thanks so much for your opinion.
    Best Wishes

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Isabelle,

      Tingly or pinching feelings often occur when a nerve is partially pinched or constricted, or is undergoing some form of active healing & regrowth. It’s possible that there is some cellular debris from the stroke that is impeding nerve conduction, or that nerves are trying to remap themselves to control expanded areas of your husband’s body.

      I would expect that acupuncture could help by reducing pain and increasing mobility by encouraging his brain to better remodel after the stroke. A good acupuncturist could also use herbal medicine or dietary consulting to help repair & strengthen blood vessel walls to help avoid the possibility of further stroke.

      Best of luck with your husband’s recovery,
      – Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

  5. Magesh Kumar says:


    My name is Magesh and I am from India. I wanted to check with your regarding my Dad’s health condition. My dad is 70 years old now and he had a stoke some 4 years back. He is also a diabetic patient and had high BP. His sugar level are quite normal right now and his BP is also normal 140-150/75-80 range.

    When he got stoke 4 years back, we took him to a neurologist who said he has got a stoke (blood clot in brain) and he gave him some tablets . He is taking the tablet quite regularly. His walking ability has come down and his memory power has also decreased. Will Acupunture help him in improving his walking and memory power ? Please advise.

    Magesh Kumar

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Magesh,

      It may be possible that he will recover function, but I think it would be a challenge after four years. It is likely his best bet at this point is to use scalp acupuncture, as this is often used for stroke and neurological changes in the brain.

      I wish your father the best of luck in his recovery.

      – Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

  6. Amber says:


    First of thank you for helping us all!
    My father suffered a stroke 3 years ago and has a weak left side. I am looking at all options as my mother is exhausted as she takes care of him. Do you think acupunture would help him? If you could suggest a clinic in Houston, TX I would highly appreciate it!

    Thank you!

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Amber,

      Acupuncture has been used with great success to treat people with stroke, though after three years seeing improvement will be difficult.

      We do not know of any practitioners in the Houston area, but you can look at the Texas Acupuncture Association’s webpage for practitioners in the Houston area and question each of them about their experience treating stroke patients.

      Best regards,
      – Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

  7. Giselle Smith says:

    Hi Paul

    I am 45 years old, and I had a stroke five years ago. I am doing quite well now except for maintaining a sturdy balance and occasionally getting a sort of tightness,spasm if I am tired, upset or tense. I went back to work and driving also. A friend just advised to try acupuncture. what do you think? In the first 2 years I did physical and aqua therapy and then I plateaud Please advise if acupuncture would still help at this stage. Regards Giselle

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Giselle,

      I am of the mindset that there is always potential for improvement, even after 5 years. It’s hard to gauge what degree of change is possible without seeing you, but I expect that within a reasonable amount of time acupuncture could help with the tightness and spasming when fatigued, and to help improve your overall energy levels. Adjusting your balance may be possible but it would depend on what degree of control you have over your body.

      If you are in the southern NH area, please consider giving us a call for a consultation.

      Best regards for your recovery,
      – Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

  8. Rina selber says:

    Hi … My Dad had a cerebral hemorrhage 3 years ago. He is now 80 . He was extremely active and independent The part of the brain that was affected was balance. He still goes to physical therapy but I think he has plateaued . He walks with no help but his gait is very slow and his balance is off. Do you think that Accupunture along with physical therapy may help his balance at this point? He is motivated to get better. Thank you

    • Paul Mosier says:

      Hi Rina,

      It’s hard to say without knowing how long ago the hemorrhage was. Also due to his age recovery might be minimal at this point, but we always believe that further treatment is worth pursuing if he’s motivated to improve.

      Best regards,
      – Paul Mosier, L.Ac.

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