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Study Suggests Acupuncture May be Better Than No Acupuncture, Sham Acupuncture for Treatment of Chronic Pain

The treatment of chronic pain

 

An analysis of patient data from 29 randomized controlled trials suggests that acupuncture may be better than no acupuncture or sham acupuncture for the treatment of some chronic pain, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Acupuncture, the practice of inserting and stimulating needles at specific points on the body, is widely used for chronic pain, although controversy remains about its value, according to the study background.

The individual patient data meta-analyses conducted by Andrew J. Vickers, D.Phil., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues used data from previously published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a total of 17,922 patients from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Researchers sought to determine the effect size of acupuncture for some chronic pain conditions.

“We found acupuncture to be superior to both no-acupuncture control and sham acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain,” the authors comment. “Although the data indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo, the differences between true and sham acupuncture are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to therapeutic effects.”

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