More Evidence for Acupuncture’s Role in Treating Pain
Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
While recent health news has necessarily been dominated by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, other things have continued happening in the medical world, such as a new study in the BMJ, which offers additional evidence for acupuncture.
The randomized trial involved 150 patients – mostly women – with common migraines and little knowledge of acupuncture. All received usual care over 8 weeks, but some received standard acupuncture with needles while others received sham acupuncture or no acupuncture at all.
Compared to those in the sham group, patients who got standard acupuncture had significantly fewer migraine days and fewer attacks.
Twenty sessions of manual acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture and usual care for the prophylaxis of episodic migraine without aura. These results support the use of manual acupuncture in patients who are reluctant to use prophylactic drugs or when prophylactic drugs are ineffective, and it should be considered in future guidelines.
This jibes with earlier research showing acupuncture to be an important drug-free alternative for “pain management,” including pain associated with specific health conditions. One recent review of the science in JAMA Oncology, for instance, found “ a significant association…between real (compared with sham) acupuncture and reduced pain.” When it was combined with drug therapy for pain, drug use actually decreased.
This study found a moderate level of evidence that acupuncture and/or acupressure was significantly associated with lower pain intensity in patients with cancer compared with a sham control, which suggests a potential for a combination of acupuncture and acupressure to help reduce opioid doses in patients with cancer.
We’re grateful to see the evidence continue to mount like this.