Acupuncture Alters Brain Connectivity in Musculoskeletal Pain

Acupuncture research from New Zealand: acupuncture alters brain connectivity in musculoskeletal pain. A systematic review by a team of New Zealand-based authors, supports the ability of acupuncture to alter pain-related functional connectivity in the brains of patients with musculoskeletal pain. Seven studies met the team’s inclusion criteria. All of them showed that acupuncture resulted in important changes to activation of brain areas which show abnormal connectivity in patients with chronic pain. The restoration of normal connectivity is associated with pain reduction. The studies looked at 191 patients with four conditions: osteoarthritis, chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The authors conclude that these seven studies support the theory that acupuncture can alter pain-related functional connectivity in the brain. The main implications for clinical practice are that acupuncture is proven to cause important changes in chronic pain states and that acupuncture efficacy is achieved by long-term intervention.

(Does Acupuncture Alter Pain-related Functional Connectivity of the Central Nervous System? A Systematic Review. Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, August 2016.)