A thumbs up for acupuncture

ACUPUNCTURE gets a thumbs-up for helping relieve chronic headaches, backache and arthritis in a review of more than two dozen studies, reports respected Australian health publication, Medical Observer.

Despite ongoing skepticism over whether acupuncture offers anything more than a placebo effect, the study indicates it is effective in relieving pain.

The new analysis examined 29 studies involving almost 18,000 adults. The researchers concluded acupuncture worked better than usual pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture.

The results “provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option”, wrote the authors, who include researchers with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and several universities in England and Germany.

Their analysis adds to evidence that acupuncture may benefit a range of conditions, combining results from studies of patients with common types of chronic pain – recurring headaches, arthritis or back, neck and shoulder pain.

The studies had randomly assigned patients to acupuncture and either sham acupuncture or standard pain treatment including medication or physical therapy.

The authors explained their statistical findings by using a pain scale of 0 to 100: The patients’ average baseline pain measured 60; it dropped to 30 on average in those who got acupuncture, 35 in those who got fake acupuncture, and 43 in the usual treatment group.

Although the difference in results for real versus fake acupuncture was small, it suggests acupuncture could have more than a psychological effect, said lead author Dr Andrew Vickers (PhD), a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. The centre offers acupuncture and other alternative therapies for cancer patients with hard-to-treat pain.

Information Source: Medical Observer 13 September www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/study-backs-benefits-of-acupuncture?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Enews+-+11092012&utm_content=Daily+Enew 13092012

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