Stiff Person Syndrome: Management By Chinese Medicine: A Case Study

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a rare disease of the central nervous system characterised by muscle rigidity and episodic spasm. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder as about 60% of SPS patients present with immune mediated γ‑aminobutyric acid deficiency. There is no direct mention of SPS in the Chinese medical literature, but a review of other classical disease categories reveals that from the Chinese medical perspective SPS can be understood as a disease of the Liver and sinews caused by a combination of underlying vacuity patterns as well as retention of wind and phlegm evils. This case study describes the acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment of a 33 year‑old male with SPS. The patient underwent treatment for a period of two years, and during that time he was able to completely eliminate his use of Dilantin and decrease diazepam use by between 30 to 50%, with no deleterious effects or exacerbation of symptoms. It can thus be concluded that Chinese medicine may offer SPS patients a valid treatment option for palliation of symptoms and it is hoped this case will introduce SPS to Chinese medical practitioners in an effort to begin collecting more data on its treatment with Chinese medicine.

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