Treating Chronic Pain With Acupuncture
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – An astounding 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain and the cost of healthcare due to pain ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion (in 2010) in the United States. It’s because of these alarming numbers that the researchers over at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York decided to try and do something about it.
This study, conducted by Andrew J. Vickers, D.Phil., and colleagues, examined how acupuncture affects chronic pain. Acupuncture, the practice of inserting and stimulating needles at specific points on the body, is widely used for chronic pain, although controversy remains about its value, according to the study background.
Using data from previously published randomized control trials (RCTs), with a total of 17,922 patients from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Sweden, researchers conducted a meta-analysis and sought to determine the effect size of acupuncture for some chronic pain conditions.
"We found acupuncture to be superior to both no-acupuncture control and sham acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain," the author was quoted as saying. "Although the data indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo, the differences between true and sham acupuncture are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to therapeutic effects."
Sham acupuncture in the trials included needles inserted superficially, devices with needles that retracted into the handle rather than penetrating the skin, and non-needle approaches such as deactivated electrical stimulation or detuned laser, according to the study.
Their results found that pain scores for those receiving acupuncture were standard deviations lower than those in the sham controls and no-acupuncture controls.
"Our results from individual patient data meta-analyses of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high-quality RCTs provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain," the authors conclude.
Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, September 2012