There is no clear evidence that acupuncture improves stroke rehabilitation, a new report has found.
Authors of the study had expected to be able to provide evidence for the routine use of acupuncture in stroke rehabilitation, but instead produced a conclusion which may cast doubt on what has become a commonly accepted form of therapy worldwide, reports the Health Behaviour News Service.
Begun in China, the treatment has been used there for hundreds of years and is now widely used in Western countries to improve motor function, sensation, speech and other neurological functions.
The paper, published in the Cochrane Library journal, is a review of existing trials and may indicate that more research is needed.
"The results of the systematic review are really surprising to me," said the study's lead author, Dr Hongmei Wu, from the West China Hospital in Si Chuan.
"In China, acupuncture has been well accepted by Chinese patients and is widely used for stroke rehabilitation," he added.
Five randomised controlled studies, including a total of 368 patients, were reviewed, which the researchers said were generally of poor quality and added up to an insufficient number to draw reliable conclusions.