Return to Increase Access to Alternative Therapies to Treat Pain

Acute Pain

Acupuncture is a type of complementary medicine that involves using needles to prick the skin or tissues in order to alleviate pain as well as treat other various conditions that may be physical, mental, and emotional in nature. It has been studied for its effect on pain reduction. In a 2016 study , acupuncture and morphine were used to treat acute onset moderate to severe pain in an emergency department. The success rate of acupuncture was significantly higher than that of morphine (92% in the acupuncture group and 78% in the morphine group). The pain resolution time was quicker with acupuncture: 8-14 minutes in the acupuncture group and 14-42 minutes in the morphine group. Overall, 29.6% of patients experienced minor adverse effects. 2.6% of patients were in the acupuncture group and 56.6% in the morphine group. Overall, acupuncture was associated with faster and more effective analgesia with better tolerance and less adverse effects. Currently, there is no sufficient evidence to support using acupuncture in acute medical settings, but with more trials and studies, it can possibly find a central place or have a larger role in acute pain management in emergency settings.

Chronic Pain

Based on a recent 2017 study , acupuncture is now recommended by many professionals in the medical field to treat several chronic pain conditions. There have been many successful cases in which acupuncture has been used to treat chronic low back, neck, shoulder and knee pain, and also in perioperative settings. Acupuncture has also been used as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, as it is finding its way more and more into pain medicine practices and procedures as well as in training programs. Although further study is needed in regards to its use as an adjunct or alternative to opioids, acupuncture has been proven to be safe, effective, and economical method to treat several chronic pain conditions.