Friday, September 14, 2012

Study Involving 18,000 People Confirms Acupuncture for Pain a Truly Effective Solution

Lisa Garber
Activist Post

Researchers examined over two dozen studies and determined that acupuncture effectively diminished chronic pain – news the pharmaceutical industry does not want to hear. The studies involved nearly 18,000 patients with back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, or chronic headaches, and showed that acupuncture for pain could be a simple solution.

“Many clinicians consider acupuncture to be merely a potent placebo and feel uncomfortable referring their patients to an acupuncturist,” says Andrew Vickers, a Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center researcher. “But our findings suggest that the effects of acupuncture go over and above the placebo effect.”

Acupuncture for Pain

In their findings, the researchers determined that, on a scale of 0 to 100, most patients arrived at an acupuncture session with pain at about level 60. Patients who received no acupuncture left the session with pain levels at about 43 while those who received “sham” treatments in which the needles were improperly placed left at level 35. Those who received proper acupuncture were at level 30.

The findings were published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine and contest the results of a 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal. The latter dismissed the effects obtained through acupuncture as a placebo effect.

Many other studies, however, back up acupuncture as not only a valid form of medicine and healing but also an affordable one. A Belgian study published in the European Journal of Pain concluded that patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorders experience notable improvements through acupuncture, which activates endogenous analgesia in. And of course there is much more to acupuncture treatment than just acupuncture for pain.


Acupuncture for Exercise Recovery and Depression

Acupuncture may also be helpful for athletes according to an Australian study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Researchers from the University of Western Sydney found that most subjects in their trials who received acupuncture experienced enhanced athletic performance as well as postexercise recovery. Even conditions like depression—commonly believed to be treated only through emotional therapy and harmful antidepressants—may be helped through acupuncture.

This holistic treatment for depression bypasses the medications and opens up a whole new world for those only knowing Western practices.

Acupuncture for Children

Not just for adults, acupuncture for children can also be very effective. Rather than putting them on harmful pain medication, children experiencing migraines, endometriosis, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy can experience natural pain relief through acupuncture—once they get over their fear of needles.

Remember that there is more to acupuncture for pain or any other condition. For more on eastern versus western medicine, check out this infographic comparing the history, methodology, effectiveness, and cost of the two.

Additional Sources:
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JAMA Network

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This article first appeared at Natural Society, an excellent resource for health news and vaccine information.


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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for acupuncture i would have cracked many years ago. Crippling arthritis for 20 yearsis no laughing matter.

Anonymous said...

If you read further in the abstract, it says "However, these differences [between sham acupuncture and true acupuncture] are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture."

What does that mean to you?

In the sham acupuncture I'm familiar with they don't actually use needles, and they never break skin. Here they apparently put needs in the "wrong" places. Time and time again they have trouble showing any real difference between "true" acupuncture and anything similar (however remotely) and here they said they found a real but very small difference, and they can't explain it. To me, it really looks like it has more to do with the patient feeling they are being cared for than the actual treatment they receive (which puts it squarely in placebo territory).

They also relied on reports for how people felt leaving the clinic. If you don't want to measure placebo effect, don't ask people how they feel, find another way of measuring whether or not your treatment works. That, or at least make sure you do follow up survey. How did they feel the next day? Or the next week? Placebo effects (there's more than one) seem to only impact people's subjective feelings (like pain and mood) and the effects tend to fade fast.

I don't have access to the full study, so maybe the researchers do address these concerns. If you have read the full study, please feel free to correct me.

Anonymous said...

I tried acupuncture for the pain associated from two degenerated discs in my neck. It did nothing for the pain, or the constant headaches. I was about $350 dollars lighter. This was a Chinese trained doctor. May work for some, but not for me.

gnomad1618 said...

Part of the reality of Chinese Medicine, which is hard to fathom unless you have studied several systems of acupuncture, is that any point on the body can be an acupuncture point. One system, which is gaining popularity among acupuncturists, is from Master Tung. In this system, a family system which was only taught to the public beginning in the 60s and 70s in Taiwan, there are an additional 700 points to the standard 400 or so points. When you start studying "micro-system acupuncture," which is based on a holographic model (long before the scientific hologram was developed), you have to realize that any point can potentially treat any condition.

I consider myself a fairly grounded "metaphysician", and I had to ask myself several times during the course of my studies whether or not I was spending $60K to learn how to administer a placebo effect. I have seen many cases of people coming through my door with no expectations or limited expectations, either because their spouse put them up to it and they "don't really believe in this crap" (yes, clients have said that to my face), or because they had been getting acupuncture for years and they "know" they are only going to get ~20% relief temporarily. I, or another acupuncturist, may use a different approach, and they get surprising and dramatic results. The idea of a mere placebo goes out of the window. And the non-believers who come in because of their spouse become the greatest proponents of Chinese Medicine.

Regarding studies, unfortunately, there is no such thing other than a subjective measurement of pain. And I, too, like to see the actual. I want to know whether it was a trained acupuncturist administering the treatment. A Catch-22 is that without one, the results will be less, but with one, there is no double-blind study. I also want to know which points they used. While I stand by my statement that any point can potentially treat any condition, some protocols and methods are consistently better than others.

And finally, it must be admitted that acupuncture will not help everyone. I used to feel awful when my treatments didn't help. Well, I still do, but I don't blame myself or the medicine, anymore. There is a saying that goes something like, "The average acupuncturist can heal 6 out of 10 patients, the good acupuncturist can heal 8 out of 10, and the master can heal still only heal 9 out of ten."
Certainly, in cases where there is damage to the physical body, such as with degenerated discs, the odds of success go down.

You are left with a choice when it comes to healthcare. You can go see someone who will try to help your body heal itself, or you can go see someone who sees your body as a machine that can never be healed, but whose symptoms can be managed with synthetic toxic drugs, or perhaps they might just want to take that part out that is not working right (don't worry, you can manage without it).

And I'm sorry you spent $350 with no results, but at least you tried. And you are not bankrupt for placing your faith in someone, unlike so many other who place their faith in our current, corrupt, healthcare system.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that it is currently impossible to get an objective measure of pain, but there are lots of ailments and conditions that acupuncture claims to treat that can be measured objectively. Why aren't they given more attention in studies like this?

My concern is with people who are content with not knowing if they are actually doing any good but still feel comfortable accepting vulnerable people into their care (and taking their money).

gnomad1618, you say some protocols and methods are consistently better than others. That is the kind of information that studies should be based on and that is that kind of information that I think should made available to the general public. How can we choose our treatment if we don't even know what to ask for? We are routinely asked to make seemingly arbitrary choices based on anecdotes, appeals to ancient wisdom, and poor characterizations of mainstream healthcare.

acupuncture sydney city said...

Its to much quantity who are suffering but Acupuncture decrease the pain of patients. Acupuncture may also be helpful for spotters. it is a good alternative of medicine.

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