Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Acupuncture - effective at treating pain

Is acupuncture effective at treating pain or disorders? I'll give the scientific answer to that question, and explain why I don't recommend acupuncture for any condition.

A few notes, and some references:
1. Toothpick acupuncture does NOT involve inserting the toothpick in the skin. It was merely placed against the skin in a needle guide-tube to give a sharp sensation, then removed.

2. In the USA, acupuncturists are required to meet sterile standards, use one-use-only needles or autoclaved (sterilized) needles, and must be licensed to practice.

3. I'm not really addressing the acupressure and non-insertive traditions of some Japanese acupuncture forms. Certainly these are similar to non-insertive sham treatments, but it should be noted that the placement of fingers or toothpicks is not important for the effect.

1. BMJ 2009;338:a3115
Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups

2. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):858-866
A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain

3. Clin Med 2006;6:381--6
Systematic review of systematic reviews of acupuncture published 1996--2005

4. Lancet. 1995 Jun 17;345(8964):1576.
Adverse effects of acupuncture.

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