Acupuncture benefits for pain limited
NEW YORK - Reuters
A new study suggests that acupuncture has placebo effect on some people.Acupuncture may help relieve chronic back, joint and shoulder pain, according to a new review of the evidence but some of its benefit is likely due to the “placebo effect,” researchers concluded.
In an analysis of 29 studies, they found people who got acupuncture typically reported more pain relief than those who didn’t. But patients treated with fake or “sham” acupuncture, using retracting needles that don’t stick in the skin, for example, estimated their pain at somewhere in between the other two groups, suggesting that they also got some benefit from the procedure.
“A doctor who has a patient in pain has a lot of options,” such as medications and physical or talk therapy, said lead author Andrew Vickers, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
“This provides evidence that they would be justified in considering acupuncture,” he said.
Acupuncture has been controversial among doctors as a possible treatment for a range of conditions including chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Some think it has potential as an add-on or alternative to standard treatment, while others argue any acupuncture-related benefits are likely the result of hopeful patients getting treatment they strongly believe will help them.
The researchers found that on average, people treated with acupuncture reported a “modest” improvement in symptoms compared to those who had sham treatment, and a larger effect compared to untreated patients.
They estimated in their Archives of Internal Medicine report that about 50 percent of patients had their symptoms cut in half with acupuncture, compared to almost 43 percent of those treated with sham acupuncture and 30 percent with no acupuncture-like therapy.