Acupuncture For Pain
Acupuncture is a system of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles, used to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Acupuncture is an unorthodox approach towards relieving muscle pain; however, the practice does not provide any clear clinical effectiveness as a treatment.
A systematic review of 63 randomized controlled trials, including 6382 individuals by Yuan et al., assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture techniques for musculoskeletal pain.21 Researchers discovered that acupuncture demonstrated low-quality evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in terms of musculoskeletal pain.21 On the contrary, studies have resulted in high-quality evidence of ASTR treatment’s effectiveness in treating musculoskeletal pain. ASTR stands for Advanced Soft Tissue Release, a manual therapy specialty developed by Dr. Joesph Jacobs, DPT. ASTR takes a holistic approach to treating the source of soft tissue restriction in a way that is virtually pain-free and highly effective.
A systematic review is a type of literature review that collect and critically analyze multiple research studies or papers. In their systematic review of 13 trials with 3025 participants, Madsen et al. studied the effectiveness of acupuncture by assessing the differences present between participants who received acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture. Treatment was given to patients on a range between 1 day and 12 weeks and pain conditions included knee osteoarthritis, tension headaches migraine, low back pain, fibromyalgia, abdominal scar pain, postoperative pain, and pain during colonoscopy procedure.22 While there was a moderate difference between placebo acupuncture and no acupuncture groups, there was a small difference between acupuncture and placebo acupuncture groups.22 A conclusion of the study is that there is a small analgesic effect of acupuncture that seems to lack clinical relevance and cannot be clearly distinguished from bias.
Another systematic review of 21 trials by Andrea Furlan compared acupuncture, no treatment, sham acupuncture, and other therapies to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating chronic low-back pain.23 Results showed that while acupuncture was more sufficient than no treatment, acupuncture was not any more effective than other therapy treatments.
21. Yuan Q, Wang P, Liu L, et al. Acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain: A meta-analysis and meta-regression of sham-controlled randomized clinical trials. Scientific Reports. 2016;6:30675. doi:10.1038/srep30675.
22. Madsen MV, Gotzsche PC, Hrobjartsson A. Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups. Bmj. 2009;338. doi:10.1136/bmj.a3115.