Acupuncture is more than a placebo for chronic pain

Acupuncture may go more mainstream now that new research shows that it provides modest but statistically significant benefits over both standard care and placebo for patients with chronic pain.

A team led by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York looked at 29 randomized controlled trials involving a total of 17,922 people from the U.S., Germany, Spain, and Sweden who suffered with back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, or chronic headaches. For greater precision, the investigators analyzed data on the individual patients, rather than outcome summaries, as prior reviews have done. The study was published online Sept. 10 by Archives of Internal Medicine.

Conclusions: Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, these differences are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.
Read More