A Study Has Conclusively Confirmed that Acupuncture is a Bona-fide Treatment for Pain

In a recent study done in New York by scientists at the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, acupuncture showed superior results than both conventional pharmaceutical painkillers and placebo therapies. This study has been included in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The authors wrote that the results reveal the most compelling proof so far that acupuncture is a valid option for the treatment of pain.

Being an important component of TCM or traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture in Boynton Beach is a holistic form of healthcare system that is used for both curative and preventive care. Thin long needles are used in the traditional form of acupuncture and are inserted into specified parts of the body known as meridians based on the patterns of disharmony indicated by the patient’s specific need and symptoms. More often than not, acupuncture is used along with other TCM therapies such as Qi gong and other energetic practices as well as medicinal herbs, and dietary recommendations.

In the West, acupuncture has become widely popular especially when scientific studies have proven its helpfulness, especially when it comes to the alleviation of pain. This treatment is now covered by some private insurance plans (but not by Medicare) and has even been adopted by the U.S. military as a frontline treatment for soldiers. Beginning in 2014, acupuncture therapies were recommended by the California Legislature as one of the treatments that can be covered by all health insurance plans in the state.

Moreover, studies have demonstrated acupuncture to work in others conditions other than pain, such as improving the condition of post-traumatic stress disorder patients and sufferers of other mood or psychological disorders, and easing addiction-related cravings. However, there is a split in opinion among scientists on the issue on whether acupuncture provides any more benefit than a placebo. This was a question (among others) that the current study was designed to answer.

Safer and Better than Medications

A meta-analysis was conducted by a team of researchers on data involving approximately 18,000 adults from 29 prior studies. This study was sponsored by the federal institution National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Samueli Institute a not-for profit organization that sponsors studies regarding alternative medicine.

Patients suffering from chronic pain were examined in the original studies. The pain came from various causes: recurring headaches, arthritis, back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. The subjects in every study had been randomly designated either for conventional treatments (physical therapy and medications), acupuncture, or fake acupuncture in which needles were inserted at acupoints along non- traditional meridians.

The pain of the subjects was measured, in the meta-analysis, from a scale of 0 to 100. The average pain scale was 60 before any medical treatment was administered. An average scale of 43 was measured when Western conventional treatments were given compared to 30 among those who received real acupuncture and 35 on patients administered with fake acupuncture. The conductors of the study saw that the difference between conventional treatments and acupuncture was significant and strong, while the difference between fake and real acupuncture was suggestive enough, although cannot be considered conclusive.

A University of California-San Francisco physician and researcher by the name of Andrew Avins published a commentary published in the same issue of the journal. He stated that the study was more persuasive than previous meta-analyses, because the authors assessed not just their conclusions but also the original data from the pooled studies. Dr. Avins did not participate in the study.

Avins also observed that the people who focus on the issue of whether acupuncture works as a placebo or via some other, unknown mechanism miss the point entirely. The best approach is to provide the treatment now to patients and discuss the mystery as to how it works later since acupuncture is now a proven low risk and effective therapy.

Quoting him indirectly, “maybe at this point a more productive strategy would be to give our patients whatever benefits we can provide, while continuing to examine carefully all forms of healing mechanisms.”

Nowadays, it may cost between $60 – $100 for a typical acupuncture session.

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