Category Archives: Latest Research
Research commissioned by the US State of Vermont shows that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain and offers a wide array of other benefits, for patients on low incomes and treated under the government-funded Medicaid scheme. Previous studies have shown that this population is hampered in its access to non-pharmacological treatments, by lack of health insurance. In a pragmatic randomised trial, Medicaid patients with chronic pain were offered up to 12 acupuncture sessions over a 60 day period. This resulted in 156 patients (111 women & 45 men) receiving an average 8.2 treatments.
– There were significant improvements in pain intensity, pain interference, physical function, fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep and social isolation.
– 57% of patients using non-opioid analgesics reported reductions in use.
– 32% of patients using opioid analgesics reported reductions in use.
– 74% of employed patients reported improved capacity to work.
– 96% of patients would recommend acupuncture to others with chronic pain.
(Acupuncture for Chronic Pain in the Vermont Medicaid Population: A Prospective, Pragmatic Intervention Trial. Global Advances in Health & Medicine, April 2018.)
Chinese researchers investigating acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation have found that the addition of acupuncture to physical therapy for patients with shoulder-hand syndrome, significantly contributes to pain reduction and functional improvements. A total of 178 patients received either standard rehabilitation therapy or standard therapy plus acupuncture, in a hospital setting. Acupuncture was given once per day for a month.
At the end of the treatment period, early pain relief, upper extremity motor function and quality of life, were all significantly better in the acupuncture group.
(A clinical study on acupuncture in combination with routine rehabilitation therapy for early pain recovery of post-stroke shoulder-hand syndrome. Experimental & Therapeutic Medicine, 18 December 2017.)
A randomised controlled trial in China looking at acupuncture for indigestion (dyspepsia) has demonstrated that it can improve the symptoms. A total of 200 patients with persistent functional dyspepsia were assigned to receive 20 sessions of either true or sham control electroacupuncture over a four week period. Symptom scores showed true electroacupuncture to be superior to sham at all time points, and its effect persisted for 20 weeks following the end of the treatment period.
(Electroacupuncture for patients with refractory functional dyspepsia: A randomized controlled trial. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 28 February 2018.)
The results of a large study undertaken in China suggest that using acupuncture for constipation is as effective as drug therapy. A total of 684 patients with chronic functional constipation, were randomly allocated to receive one of three acupuncture protocols or the drug mosapride, for four weeks. Sixteen acupuncture treatments were given over the four weeks, with electrical stimulation on the needles.
After four weeks, the number of spontaneous bowel movements had increased significantly and fairly equally across all four groups. At eight week follow up however, the change had become significantly smaller in the drug group compared with all three acupuncture groups.
(Acupuncture for patients with chronic functional constipation: A randomized controlled trial. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 2 February 2018.)
Authors of a German study looking at acupuncture for hayfever have concluded that patients can significantly reduce their use of antihistamines whilst also improving their symptoms. At the start of the pollen season, 414 patients aged 16 to 45 were randomised into three groups: acupuncture plus cetirizine, sham acupuncture plus cetirizine, and cetirizine alone. The acupuncture group received 12 sessions over the eight week intervention period. All participants documented their medication use before and during the trial.
The results showed that eight weeks of true acupuncture was associated with significantly fewer days of antihistamine use, compared with the sham acupuncture and cetirizine alone groups. Also in contrast to the other two groups, the acupuncture patients did not need to increase the number of days on which they used antihistamines, as the pollen season moved from onset to peak. Approximately 38% of the acupuncture group used no antihistamines at all, compared to 16% in the group in which antihistamines only were permitted.
The authors state that acupuncture is relatively safe, and common side effects are bleeding and haematoma caused by the needles. In contrast, antihistamines like cetirizine commonly cause fatigue, dizziness, headaches, sleepiness and sore throat. They reduce patients’ quality of life, and affect daily life and activities. Clinical guidelines strongly recommend antihistamines however, and acupuncture is listed as a supplementary option. These results encourage consideration of the need for a stronger position of acupuncture in those guidelines, as a valuable, additional treatment option.
(Impact of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis: secondary analysis of results from a randomised controlled trial. Acupuncture in Medicine, 10 February 2018.)