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Category Archives: Latest Research
Authors of a study undertaken in Korea have concluded that electro-acupuncture should be recommended as a non-pharmacological treatment for the pain of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. A total of 126 patients with the condition were randomly assigned to either electro-acupuncture or to a non-treatment control group. Treatment was given twice a week for eight weeks. Both groups were given dietary and lifestyle advice, diabetes medication and painkillers (paracetamol) to use when required.
Patients in the treatment group showed significantly more improvement in pain scores compared to those in the control group: 16% of treatment group patients had a greater than 50% reduction in pain score, compared to only 6% in the control group. The treatment group also experienced significantly greater improvements in sleep and quality of life scores. By week 9, 82% of patients in the treatment group were reporting global improvements, compared with 34% in the control group. This was maintained through eight weeks of follow up.
(Electroacupuncture for Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: A Multicenter, Randomized, Assessor-Blinded, Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care, online ahead of print 30 July 2018.)
Investigators at the Singapore Eye Research Institute have found that acupuncture can help dry eyes by providing benefits in addition to those provided by artificial tears. A total of 150 patients aged 40 to 85, were randomly allocated to receive either artificial tears alone (Systane Ultra four times per day), artificial tears plus eight acupuncture sessions (delivered twice a week), or artificial tears plus a Chinese herbal supplement traditionally used for dry eyes. Treatment took place over a one month period.
Compared with the group using artificial tears alone, the acupuncture group reported lower symptom scores, and also reduced conjunctival redness. Inflammatory cytokine levels in tear fluid were significantly reduced following acupuncture. The herbal supplement did not significantly alter symptom scores. No adverse effects of acupuncture were noted.
The researchers conclude that treatment involving predominantly eye drops usually provides only temporary symptomatic relief. This study suggests that 30% of people with dry eye may not actually obtain relief from drops, so alternative treatments should be explored. For mild to moderate dry eye, acupuncture can be considered, provided that there is access to suitably trained and accredited professionals.
(Acupuncture & herbal formulation compared with artificial tears alone: evaluation of dry eye symptoms & associated tests in randomised clinical trial. BMJ Open Ophthalmology, 18 June 2018.)
Acupuncture for prostatitis seems to be an effective intervention, according to the results of a Cochrane systematic review of non-pharmacological treatments for chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Three of the studies included in the review, covering 204 patients, suggested that acupuncture reduces prostatitis symptoms in an appreciable number of patients, when compared against either standard interventions or a sham control procedure. Furthermore, the use of acupuncture resulted in little or no increase in adverse events, compared to standard medical therapy.
(Non-pharmacological interventions for treating chronic prostatitis/ chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 26 January 2018.)
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.)