Can Acupuncture “Turtle Technique” Heal Bedsores?

Nov 10, 2017

Alternative and non-traditional forms of treatment are becoming increasingly commonplace in the American healthcare landscape.  New research and discussion published by the Healthcare Medicine Institute asks the question – “Can acupuncture “turtle technique” heal bedsores?”

At Brown & Brothers, we strive to stay abreast of advances in technology or science that can help our readers.  In this post, we will discuss what research may suggest about acupuncture and bedsore treatment.  Remember to always speak with your doctor before trying any new treatment method.  If you have questions or concerns about the care you or a loved one has received for a bedsore, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Acupuncture for Bedsores – Research

Research published in June 2017 in the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion detailed a comparison of effective rates of bedsore treatment using acupuncture and standard wound care.  This research suggested that patients receiving acupuncture alongside standard wound care experienced better outcomes in healing.

Researchers reached this conclusion after selecting a pool of 34 patients at the acupuncture department of Heilongjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine University.  All of the selected patients had been diagnosed with Stage 2-3 bedsores.  Diagnoses were all made between March 2015 and March 2016.  Researchers divided patients into groups – one group receiving only standard wound care, and one group receiving acupuncture alongside standard wound care.

Researchers observed acupuncture techniques, including:

  • Fire Needling: An ancient form of acupuncture where the needle is heated to a “red hot” state and then quickly inserted and withdrawn from the wound.
  • Turtle Technique (Surround Needling): Four disposable needles inserted around the lesion. An electroacupuncture device connects to the needles, dispersing dense waves to stimulate muscle contractions.  Needles are left in the wound for 15 minutes.

The effective rates of acupuncture with standard wound care versus standard wound care alone were defined as:

  • Patients treated with acupuncture had an effective rate of 88.2 percent.
  • Patients receiving standard wound care alone had a 70.6 percent effective rate.

Not only were effective rates increased for patients receiving acupuncture, but their PUSH scores and the size of their lesions were also positively affected.  The PUSH score is a measurement tool used to categorize bedsores based on surface area, type of wound tissue, and exudate.

Understanding the PUSH Measurement Tool

The Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing (PUSH Tool) was designed by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP).  It was developed to be a means of quick and reliable measurement to monitor changes in bedsores over time.  The PUSH Tool offers a template that can easily be completed by caregivers, with specific measurements including:

  • Length and width of the wound calculated into square centimeters.
  • Exudate amount, or the amount of drainage present upon changing dressings or after cleaning.
  • Tissue type, which may be classified as 1) necrotic; 2) slough; 3) granulation; 4) epithelial (pink and shiny); and 5) closed or resurfaced.

These measurements are taken a regular intervals to help determine progression or regression of the wound’s healing.  This provides caregivers and healthcare providers with valuable information about how the bedsore is responding to treatment.

Turtle Technique Offers Promising Healing Power

As researchers examined the effects of acupuncture on their study participants, it became obvious that the turtle technique offered particular benefits.  It is called the turtle technique because the practitioner visualizes the space as if a turtle’s head, arms, legs, and tail.  That is the position in which the needles are placed.  The point of the needles are turned inward, toward the center of the wound or area.

The turtle technique was found to unblock meridians, remove blood stasis, accelerate blood and lymphatic circulation, absorb inflammation, and benefit tissue growth and healing.  When used alongside standard wound care for a period of three weeks, the turtle technique showed increased healing and effective rates.

A combination of the needling itself and the electroacupuncture has multiple benefits to promote healing.  Since the 1970’s, electroacupuncture has been used (and continuously studied) to improve microcirculation, boost the immune system response, promote tissue growth and healing, and enhance vascularization.

Why/How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture, including the turtle technique, has been used as a means of relieving symptoms of chronic back pain, abdominal pain, gout, and other painful medical conditions.  For millennia, acupuncture has been used in Eastern medicine, and in recent decades has gained significance in Western medicine.  There are numerous opinions on exactly how acupuncture works, including:

  • Stimulating nerves, muscles, and tissue
  • Exciting biochemical responses
  • Reducing inflammatory markers
  • Stimulating brain secretions
  • Increasing effectiveness of certain medications

In October 2012, a large-scale meta-analysis of 29 studies and 18,000 patients was conducted to determine the effect of acupuncture on chronic pain.  The result of this, and other similar studies, suggests that acupuncture is at least moderately effective in relieving pain and nausea.  There are many sources who believe that acupuncture could be effective in relieving or healing symptoms associated with chronic or terminal illnesses as well.

Finding Options Right for You

If you have questions about bedsores, treatment options, or how to spot poor healthcare or treatment, contact Brown & Brothers to discuss your case.  Bedsores are considered one of the most deadly preventable injuries affecting elderly Americans.  You deserve to have your questions answered, and to feel confident about treatment options that support health and longevity.




PUSH Tool 3.0 (web version)