Essay On Acupuncture

Submitted By frankwh
Words: 1197
Pages: 5

NEWS from The Journal of Chinese Medicine summarises recent research in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, as well as diet, lifestyle, exercise, relaxation and meditation and other miscellaneous subjects. Much of this information will help practitioners to accurately inform patients of the benefits or risks of lifestyle choices and give informed answers to patients' questions, aid in the practice of preventive medicine and help practitioners take care of their own health.

Proof that acupuncture works for chronic pain

An international collaboration involving some of the UK's top acupuncture researchers has provided definitive evidence that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain. The Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration analysed raw individual patient data, which was available for 17,922 participants enrolled in 29 highquality randomised trials of acupuncture for four chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, shoulder pain and headache. It is the first systematic review of acupuncture to use individual patient data to conduct a meta-analysis. This method is superior to the usual method of using summary data, and the use of statistical methods that generate more precise results. The study, published in the prestigious Archives of Internal Medicine on September 10th (2012), showed that for each of the four chronic pain conditions the analgesic effect of true acupuncture was slightly better than that of placebo acupuncture. However, the difference between true acupuncture and usual care alone was found to be much larger and of clear clinical significance. Acupuncture was statistically superior to control in all comparisons. Patients who received true acupuncture had less pain, showing scores that were 0.23, 0.16 and 0.15 SDs (standard deviations) lower than sham controls for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headache respectively. The effect sizes for true acupuncture in comparison to no-acupuncture controls were lower by 0.55, 0.57 and 0.42 SDs respectively. The authors give an example of what these effect sizes might mean in real terms. For an RCT where pain is scored on a scale of zero to 100, a baseline pain score might be 60. Given a standard deviation of 25, post-treatment scores might be 43 in a no-acupuncture group, 35 in a sham acupuncture group and 30 in a true acupuncture group. The average effect size of true acupuncture (approximately 0.5 SD, judged as 'medium') compared with no treatment, was judged to be of clear clinical relevance. The authors point out that while the difference between acupuncture and sham was of lesser magnitude (approximately 0.2 SD, judged as 'small'), this is still a robust difference that can be clearly distinguished from bias. This is the first study to unequivocally demonstrate this. Although the data indicates that acupuncture is more than a placebo, the relatively small difference between true and sham acupuncture suggests that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling contribute to its therapeutic effects. This probably explains why, in comparing true acupuncture with no acupuncture, the effect size for individual RCTs showed that it had a smaller benefit in patients who received a programme of ancillary care (for example physiotherapist-led exercises), than in those patients who continued to receive usual care (for example, analgesics as required). The authors emphasise that the clinical choice made by doctors and patients is not between acupuncture and sham, but between acupuncture and no acupuncture, and, for this comparison there is a clear and clinically relevant difference. The collaborators conclude that this landmark study provides the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain. They hope their findings will encourage clinicians to recommend acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment and inform future clinical and policy decisions. (Acupuncture for chronic