Acupuncture has been used to treat pain in cancer sufferers with a good deal of success; Dr J Filshie, an anaesthetist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, has published several papers on this. Experience at RLHH has also been good. Patients may require quite frequent treatment and the intervals tend to get shorter as the disease progresses. Of course, patients with cancer can have musculoskeletal pain just like other people, and this can be treated in the usual way.
A report has appeared recently (Johansson et al., 1993) describing the use of acupuncture to improve the outcome in patients who have suffered stroke. 78 patients with severe hemiparesis were randomly allocated to twice-weekly acupuncture or daily physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Patients given acupuncture recovered faster and to a larger extent than the controls. Two years later the 48 survivors were reassessed for postural control; those who had received acupuncture had significantly better control. The authors comment that acupuncture is merely one method of providing sensory stimulation and other forms, such as TENS, should also be studied.