A new study published in the Journal Archives of Internal Medicine provides ‘the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option,’ as written in the paper. The researchers reviewed 29 papers on acupuncture, involving almost 18,000 adults; the results show that people treated with acupuncture feel less pain than those assisted with the usual pain treatments and fake acupuncture.
The researchers focused on four pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain; and compared the effect of usual pain treatments, fake acupuncture and real acupuncture on the patients. On a pain scale of 0 to 100 (being 60 the average baseline pain), the pain on patients treated with acupuncture dropped to 30, with fake acupuncture to 35 and with the usual pain treatments to 43.
The slight difference between fake and real acupuncture suggests that there may be some psychological effect, but the relief is real.
‘We thought for a long time that the reason why acupuncture worked was just because people believed it work,’ Prof Andrew Vickers, co-author of the study, said to SFGate. ‘We now know that the effect of acupuncture goes above and beyond the placebo effect. Acupuncture is a reasonable option for chronic pain.’
Andrew J. Vickers, Angel M. Cronin, Alexandra C. Maschino, George Lewith, Hugh MacPherson, Nadine E. Foster, Karen J. Sherman, Claudia M. Witt, & Klaus Lind (2012). Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Arch Intern Med. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654