Skip to main content

Effectiveness of acupuncture for stroke: A systematic review


Background Acupuncture has been suggested as a treatment for stroke rehabilitation, but the question whether it is effective has not been answered satisfactorily. Purpose To summarise and critically review all randomised controlled trials of the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for stroke. Methods Four independent computerised literature searches (in MEDLINE, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, Embase, and CISCOM data bases) were conducted in June 1999. All randomised-controlled trials that compared any form of needle insertion acupuncture to any form of non-acupuncture control intervention in the treatment of human stroke patients were included. Data were extracted independently by two authors and arbitrated by a third. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed using the Jadad score. Results Nine randomised controlled trials with a total sample size of 538 patients were included. Two studies were assessor blind, one was subject blind, and one was assessor and subject blind. Two studies exclusively used manual acupuncture, five only electro-acupuncture, and two used both. Outcome measures used were Scandinavian Stroke Scale, Chinese Stroke Scale or Recovery Scale, Barthel index, Nottingham Health Profile, Motor function, balance, and days in hospital. Of the nine studies, six yielded a positive result suggesting that acupuncture is effective, and three produced a negative finding implying that acupuncture is not superior to control treatment. Only two studies obtained a Jadad score of more than 3. These methodologically best trials showed no significant effect of acupuncture. Conclusion Based on the evidence of rigorous randomised controlled trials, there is no compelling evidence to show that acupuncture is effective in stroke rehabilitation. Further, better-designed studies are warranted.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information



Additional information

Received: 20 September 2000 / Received in revised form: 16 February 2001 / Accepted: 13 February 2001

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Park, J., Hopwood, V., White, A. et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture for stroke: A systematic review. J Neurol 248, 558–563 (2001).

Download citation

  • Key words Acupuncture
  • Electro-acupuncture
  • Stroke
  • Cerebro-vascular accident
  • Systematic review