Acupuncture vs drugs pain relief

Amusing reasoning of advantages of acupuncture over drugs for pain relief in an article on military medicine:

“Imagine being a military medic on a combat patrol that is ambushed and suffers casualties. Although several of your wounded troops have painful injuries, their trigger fingers still work and you need them to continue fighting. Instead of morphine, you grab your acupuncture needles and quickly stimulate the appropriate auricular acupoints. Pain relief is an essential component of combat casualty care; however, the use of narcotics risks taking the service member completely out of the fight. Beyond pain control, the potential advantages of BA (battlefield acupuncture) to the injured warrior include staying in the fight with no alteration in sensorium and no nausea or vomiting. In addition, the use of narcotics would force the transport of patients on litters. More combat team members would be required to carry a patient than are required to provide ambulatory assistance for a patient still lucid enough to walk.”

Quality science supporting the acupuncture use for neck pain is catching up with the practice. A systematic review by scientists from Cochrane collaboration confirmed that acupuncture is significantly more effective than sham acupuncture for neck pain relief.
The scientists from Southern California University performed nine meta-analyses. Seven of them yielded positive results.

The systematic review was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2009 Feb 13.

Image courtesy of Crystal Writer

acupuncture skeptic

US Air Force doctors will have a new medical weapon in their arsenal: acupuncture. Military physicians, pleased with the success of treating wounded troops at home, will begin teaching battlefield medics how to fight severe or chronic pain by inserting tiny acupuncture needles under soldiers’ skin, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence,” a surgeon said, adding that relief lasts for days.

Update: Jul 21, 2009 |
Please listen to a report by Stephanie Marudas | NPR


acupuncture and neck pain after surgery

It is hard to quantify the effect of acupuncture. This is why this study reported by scientists from Cancer Center in New York is so interesting.

After four weeks, 39 percent of neck surgery patients who got acupuncture reported improvements in pain and mobility, compared with only 7 percent in people who got typical care. This means that a patient after neck surgery and radiotherapy is five and a half times more likely to feel significantly better, than a patient who is receiving regular treatment. Furthermore, the study also showed that other symptoms like xerostomia significantly improved (xerstomia is extreme dry mouth which often occurs in patients who have had radiation treatment for head and neck cancer).

The results of the study were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Manual therapy, mobilisation and acupuncture are better choices for managing most common neck pain than many current practices, a seven year study finds.

Researchers conclude that neck collars and ultrasound are not recommended. Corticosteroid injections and surgery should only be considered if there is associated pain, weakness or numbness in the arm, fracture or serious disease.

Reference: pubmed.
Image by azrainman

Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina analysed the results of 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture. The researchers concluded that patients getting acupuncture before or during various types of operations had significantly less pain afterwards than patients who did not get acupuncture.

Acupuncture also reduced other side effects associated with the pain drugs and surgery. Acupuncture patients experienced 1.5 times lower rates of nausea, 1.6 times fewer reports of dizziness and 3.5 times fewer cases of urinary retention compared to patients had surgery and no acupuncture.

“The use of acupuncture is still very under-appreciated…” Dr. Tong-Joo Gan, vice chairman of Duke’s anaesthesiology department said in an interview to Reuters

The research was presented at a conference of the American Society for Anaesthesiology in San Francisco.

I have mentioned to you before that acupuncture is more effective than conventional treatment for pregnancy back pain, that acupuncture relieves lower back pain long-term and that you don’t even necessarily need the needles, acupressure for back pain alone is more effective than conventional therapies.

Now scientists from Germany have clearly spelled out that acupuncture is almost twice as effective as conventional treatment. And that the effect of treatment lasts for at least 6 months. This news has generated a lot of publicity from media worldwide, but not much in New Zealand.
Interestingly, none of the previous research got so much attention as this.

Reference: Archives of Internal Medicine

Over two-thirds of women will experience some degree of back pain during pregnancy, and nearly a fifth suffer from pelvic pain.

Researchers from Cochrane collaboration reviewed research on various therapies available to relieve back pain during pregnancy. The researchers confirmed that stabilizing exercises and acupuncture were better than usual care alone for relieving pelvic pain. Among women with both back and pelvic pain, there was evidence that acupuncture was more effective than physical therapy.

SOURCE: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 2.