The December 2008, issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia contains a review of twenty five adult studies evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic headaches. These were randomized controlled studies with patients split into different treatment groups and results compared after a specified amount of time. Seven studies involving a total of 479 patients compared acupuncture to medication. Sixty two percent of the acupuncture patients felt improved while forty five percent of the medicated patients noted improvement. Fourteen studies involving a total of 961 patients compared acupuncture to a placebo (a fake pill or treatment with no known active ingredients, hence a psychological effect). More acupuncture patients felt improvement than placebo patients, indicating acupuncture is better than placebo.The take home message is to consider acupuncture for chronic headache. It avoids potential side effects associated with repeated medication.
Acupuncture & Pain Management
Acupuncture can help reduce or eliminate both chronic and acute pain as well as restore balance and health within our bodies. It can be used alone or in combination with other Naturopathic modalities to fit each person's unique presentation. Think acupuncture when dealing with muscle and skeletal aches and pains of any magnitude including post operative pain.
Evidence Based Pain Management Applications
|World Health Organization Proven
||World Health Organization Therapeutically Effective
||National Institutes of Health Adjunctive or Alternative Care
|Dental jaw pain
||Dental surgery pain
||Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
||Gall bladder pain
|Lower back Pain
||Lower back pain
||Urinary tract infection chronic
Please note that the above referenced position papers are several years old (WHO 2002 and NIH 1997). Research is increasing in volume and improving in quality. Many new studies indicate promise in other areas of pain management and general health care. Call to discuss your specific problem. Note the above 2008 research on headache is an example of more current research.
Read below for more information on acupuncture
- Continuous use for at least 2,500 years
- Developed through empirical observation and trial
- Based on theory that energy flows through the body in specific channels called meridians
- Disruption of normal flow in these meridians causes disease and pain
- Healing involves the normalization of flow through meridians and is facilitated by inserting sterile single use needles in specific places (acupuncture points) to restore flow
Modern understanding of acupuncture
- Current thought is there is a local response at the location of needle insertion and a remote response at the organ associated with the meridian being treated
- No clear mechanism of action has received universal acceptance
World Health Organization Acupuncture Position (2002)
The World Health Organization feels that acupuncture has been proven effective through trials to help manage the following pain symptoms.
- Dental and jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Knee pain
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Tennis elbow
They also feel therapeutic effect has been shown for the following pain symptoms but they feel more research is needed before saying it is proven to be effective.
- Abdominal pain
- Bells palsy
- Cancer pain
- Gall bladder attacks
- Eye pain
- Facial spasm
- Herpes zoster
- Jaw pain
- Kidney stones
- Labor pain
- Radiating pain
- Spinal pain
- UTI chronic
The NIH’s (National Institutes of Health, USA) Acupuncture Position (1997)
The NIH feels that acupuncture has been proven through research to relieve pain in adults suffering post operative dental pain.They do state that positive but less rigorous research suggests acupuncture is useful as an adjunctive or alternative pain therapy in the following areas.
- Menstrual cramps
- Tennis elbow
- Myofascial pain
- Low back pain
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
The NIH also notes that the incidence of adverse effects with acupuncture is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures.
Other areas to consider acupuncture include nausea and vomiting associated with cancer treatment and pregnancy, addiction, allergy, asthma, and stroke rehabilitation