Various studies show that acupuncture eases pain including migraines, arthritis and other types of chronic pain. Several studies have been done on the use of acupuncture to ease pain, however, in the past; the results were highly scrutinized due to poor-quality, small studies. However, there is now more conclusive evidence showing that acupuncture does in fact ease pain.
The National Institutes of Health financed a detailed analysis of research involving nearly 18,000 patients who had undergone acupuncture to ease pain. Dr. Andrew J. Vickers of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York led the study and says, “We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.”
The Study of Acupuncture to Ease Pain
One of the most widely practiced types of alternative medicine, acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat and ease pain. Dr. Vickers and his team of scientists pooled several years of data in the most detailed study of information to date. They contacted authors of the studies to obtain raw data which they examined carefully before grouping it for further evaluation. They corrected statistical and methodological problems in the previous studies to reach more reliable conclusions. It took the team about six years to replicate the numbers reported in dozens of studies. The analysis included studies comparing acupuncture with traditional care as well as studies that used sham acupuncture in which patients were treated with retracting needles.
The Results of the Study
Dr. Vickers and his team found that about half the patients treated with true acupuncture had improvement. Results showed that patients undergoing treatment weren’t just getting a placebo effect; they were actually getting pain relief. The results were published in Archives of Internal Medicine and found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments as well as standard care. They found this to be the case with people suffering from chronic back, neck and shoulder pain as well as with migraines and osteoarthritis.
Dr. Vickers said, “This has been a controversial subject for a long time. But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers.” That answer is clear. Acupuncture does ease pain. Popularity for this alternative treatment continues to grow. An estimated three million Americans use acupuncture each year including approximately 150,000 children. It is the most widely practiced form of alternative medicine in America and many hospitals now offer treatment.
Dr. Andrew L. Avins at Kaiser Permanente wrote that in the case of acupuncture, this new study provides “robust evidence” that it provides benefits beyond those achieved by usual care for patients with chronic pain.