Acupuncture and Chronic Pain Study
A meta-analysis published in the September 10, 2012 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine has concluded that, “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option.”
This conclusion comes from a fresh analysis of initial raw data that had been collected by 29 studies previously conducted in Germany, Spain, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom. Collectively, these past investigations had involved nearly 18,000 patients. The meta-analysis took six years to complete.
The meta-analysis included studies that compared acupuncture with usual care, like over-the-counter pain relievers and other standard medicines. It also included studies that used sham acupuncture treatments, in which needles were inserted only superficially, for example, or in which patients in control groups were treated with needles that covertly retracted into handles.
The researchers, led by Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the lead author of the study, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.
“This has been a controversial subject for a long time,” he told the New York Times. “But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers. “We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.”
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health sponsored the study. You can learn more in the NCCAM Spotlight and its acupuncture information page.