Monthly Archives: January 2019

Acupuncture for Post-Operative Pain

 

As the new year begins the opioid epidemic continues to be a significant problem in the United States. Statistics from 2016-2017 provided by the Department of Health and Human Services paint a grim picture- 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids while approximately 2 million abused them for the first time.

Opioid medications are commonly used for post-operative pain, and one of the strategies considered to decrease the use of opioids is to use other drug-free interventions after surgery, in place of opioids.

A study published in 2017 looked at the use of such drug-free therapies to reduce pain after total knee arthroplasty. The research group, affiliated primarily with Stanford University and the University of Bologna (Italy) performed a meta-analysis of 39 random controlled trials, involving nearly 2400 subjects. Five different non-drug interventions were examined, including acupuncture, continuous passive motion, cryotherapy, electrotherapy, and preoperative exercise.

The researchers concluded that there was “modest but clinically significant evidence” that both acupuncture and electrotherapy could potentially reduce and delay the amount of post-operative opioid consumption.

As we look at multiple strategies to stem the tide of opioid abuse, it is encouraging to see research studies again supporting the use of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

 

(Source- JAMA Surgery, 2017; 152 (10))

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Acupuncture May Help With Chronic Pain

 

One of the most significant health and social problems facing the United States in 2019 is the growing opioid crisis. Data from CDC, AHRQ, and U.S. Health and Human Services show that more than 1000 people are treated in emergency rooms each day across the U.S. for misusing prescription opioids. As many as 1 in 5 people receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings. Even more telling is a study that appeared in JAMA (September 17, 2017) which showed that although life expectancy in the U.S. has increased overall between 2000 and 2015, 0.21 years were lost due to opioid related deaths.

As awareness of the staggering toll of the opioid crisis increases, so does interest in medical treatments which do not involve pain medications. Acupuncture for instance is now given more consideration for treatment of different pain syndromes, rather than relying on opioid medications.

A well-designed study from 2018 looked at using acupuncture for chronic pain. A group of researchers from the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration, composed of scientists from the U.S., U.K., and Europe looked specifically at acupuncture for chronic headache, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, or shoulder pain.

This research group had published a previous study in 2012 (Archives of Internal Medicine). For the 2018 meta-analysis an additional 13 studies were included (published between December 2008 and December 2015), yielding nearly 21,000 subjects from a total of 39 trials. The distribution of study participants was quite widespread, including those from Australia, China, Germany, the U.S. and U.K.

Results of the study demonstrated that acupuncture has a clinically relevant impact compared to the control group of no acupuncture. In addition, the effects of acupuncture tended to persist over at least a year-long period. Interestingly, acupuncture appeared to most effective on upper body musculoskeletal pain.

Given that acupuncture is generally thought to be a safe and well tolerated treatment, it may deserve consideration for treatment of chronic pain syndromes.

(Source- The Journal of Pain, Vol 19, No. 5, May)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.