Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Needles lessen pain

My five-year-old son would disagree: his recent visit to the pediatrician involved FIVE injected vaccines. Try telling him that needles lessen pain! To him, needles cause pain!

But many folks turn to acupuncture for pain relief . . . especially when more traditional therapies don't seem to work . . . or have possible unwanted side effects.

Science News recently published an item that describes recent research that appeared in the British Medical Journal and found that in a blind study, patients treated with needles fared slightly better than those getting standard care. Probably clinically irrelevant. But here's the twist: both the group that received acupuncture (needle sticks at prescribed locations of the body) and the group that received random needle sticks experienced a small amount of pain relief! In fact, those who received the "sham" version of acupuncture did a little better then those in the "real" acupuncture group. Hmmm.

For me, this raises as many questions as it answers. But in any case, it gives me more information than I had before regarding acupuncture and pain therapy . . . questions that do often come up in classroom discussions.

To read the article I mentioned, use this link:

Needles Can Stick It to Pain
Nathan Seppa, Science News online, February 3, 2009

The original research article about these findings:

Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups
Matias Vested Madsen, Peter C Gøtzsche, Asbjørn Hróbjartsson
British Medical Journal 2009;338:a3115, doi: 10.1136/bmj.a3115 (Published 27 January 2009)
[NOTE: The full article is available FREE]

Additional resources:

Does acupuncture relieve pain?
Adrian White, Mike Cummings
British Medical Journal 2009;338:a2760, doi: 10.1136/bmj.a2760 (Published 27 January 2009)
[NOTE: The full editorial is available FREE]

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Institutes of Health (NIH) site on acupuncture

And now for something completely different:

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