Latest pain relief research using acupuncture
There is uncertainty regarding how long the effects of acupuncture treatment persist after a course of treatment. We aimed to determine the trajectory of pain scores over time after acupuncture, using a large individual patient data set from high-quality randomized trials of acupuncture for chronic pain. The available individual patient data set included 29 trials and 17,922 patients. The chronic pain conditions included musculoskeletal pain (low back, neck, and shoulder), osteoarthritis of the knee, and headache/migraine. We used meta-analytic techniques to determine the trajectory of posttreatment pain scores. Data on longer term follow-up were available for 20 trials, including 6376 patients. In trials comparing acupuncture to no acupuncture control (wait-list, usual care, etc), effect sizes diminished by a nonsignificant 0.011 SD per 3 months (95% confidence interval: -0.014 to 0.037, P = 0.4) after treatment ended. The central estimate suggests that approximately 90% of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls would be sustained at 12 months. For trials comparing acupuncture to sham, we observed a reduction in effect size of 0.025 SD per 3 months (95% confidence interval: 0.000-0.050, P = 0.050), suggesting approximately a 50% diminution at 12 months. The effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain do not seem to decrease importantly over 12 months. Patients can generally be reassured that treatment effects persist. Studies of the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture should take our findings into account when considering the time horizon of acupuncture effects. The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: a meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain. MacPherson, et al, Pain: May 2017 - Volume 158 - Issue 5 - p 784–793. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000747.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest techniques to treat pain and is commonly used for a large number of indications. This was a prospective, randomized trial of acupuncture vs morphine to treat ED patients with acute onset moderate to severe pain. Resolution time was 16±8 minutes in the acupuncture group vs 28±14 minutes in the morphine group (P<.005). Overall, 89 patients (29.6%) experienced minor adverse effects: 85 (56.6%) in morphine group and 4 (2.6%) in acupuncture group (P<.001). No major adverse effects were recorded during the study protocol. In patients with acute pain presenting to the ED, acupuncture was associated with more effective and faster analgesia with better tolerance. Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Jul 20. pii: S0735-6757(16)30422-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.07.028
In this review, a total of 11 randomized controlled trials were included. As a result, we found that the use of acupuncture may be more effective than drugs and may enhance the effect of drugs for patients with sciatica. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:425108. doi: 10.1155/2015/425108.
Endometriosis is a multifactorial, estrogen-dependent, inflammatory gynecological condition - often with long-lasting visceral pelvic pain of different origin, and infertility among women. Current management options for patients' are often inadequate, with side effects for many for whom acupuncture techniques could be an alternative. Three studies were found including 99 women, 13-40 years old, with diagnosed endometriosis. Endometriosis is often painful, although with various origin, where standard treatments may be insufficient or involve side effects. Based on the reported studies, acupuncture could be tried as a complement as it is an overall safe treatment. J Pain Res. 2016 Mar 24;9:157-65. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S55580
In the primary analysis including all eligible trials, acupuncture was superior to both sham and no acupuncture control for each pain condition (all p0.001). After exclusion of an outlying set of trials that strongly favored acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions. Patients receiving acupuncture had less pain, with scores 0.23 (95% C.I. 0.13, 0.33), 0.16 (95% C.I. 0.07, 0.25) and 0.15 (95% C.I. 0.07, 0.24) standard deviations lower than sham controls for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache respectively; the effect sizes in comparison to no acupuncture controls were 0.55 (95% C.I. 0.51, 0.58), 0.57 (95% C.I. 0.50, 0.64) and 0.42 (95% C.I. 0.37, 0.46). Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22; 172(19): 1444–1453.
This study compared the efficacies of acupuncture and anti-inflammatory treatment in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Fifty patients with mild to moderate CTS were randomly divided into two groups. Our findings indicate that acupuncture affected the score on the global BCTQ FUNCT and SYMPT, the VAS score, and the electrodiagnostic findings, except the DML, more than ibuprofen did and that acupuncture might be an effective treatment for CTS. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2015 Oct;8(5):229-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Nov 29.
20 patients with primary dysmenorrhea were randomized into two groups, separately treated with herb-partitioned moxibustion at CV8 (shenque) and acupuncture at SP6 (sanyinjiao). After three menstrual cycles' treatment, the intensity of menstrual pain using VAS and the changes of metabolites of plasma using LC-MS were observed. It was effective in relieving the abdominal pain by these two therapies. Herb-partitioned moxibustion is superior to acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhea, which could be related to regulating the endocrine hormone. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:621490. doi: 10.1155/2015/621490. Epub 2015 Jul 1.