US military veterans who have acupuncture before surgery, report less pain and need far fewer opioids to manage their discomfort. In the randomized, controlled study presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the veterans were also more satisfied with their pain control.
“Six percent of patients given opioids after surgery become dependent on them, and veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental overdoses than civilians,” said Brinda Krish, D.O., lead author of the study and an anesthesiology resident at Detroit Medical Center. “Clearly it is crucial to have multiple options for treating pain, and acupuncture is an excellent alternative. It is safe, cost effective and it works.”
Researchers treated two groups of patients at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit. One group due for hip replacement were randomly assigned to either acupuncture or a control group before surgery. The other included patients undergoing a variety of procedures (including gallbladder removal, hernia repair, hysterectomy or prostate surgery); these were also randomly assigned to either acupuncture or a control group before surgery.
In the first group, patients who had not received acupuncture consumed nearly three times as much morphine in the first 24 hours after surgery, as those who had the treatment. Acupuncture patients reported less pain and 14% reported less anxiety.
In the second group, acupuncture patients consumed only half as many opioids as those in the control group. Only 3% reported nausea and vomiting after surgery, compared to 38% of the control group.
(American Society of Anesthesiologists 2020 Annual Meeting News.)