The study addresses the uncertainty as to how long the effects of acupuncture treatment persist after a course of treatment. The researchers determined the trajectory of pain scores over time after acupuncture. They used data collected across 29 trials and 17,922 patients from high-quality randomized trials of acupuncture for chronic pain.
Eligible chronic pain patients were those with nonspecific low back or neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic headache/migraine, or osteoarthritis of the knee.
The analysis was split into two sections. Firstly, 20 trials compared acupuncture to sham acupuncture and secondly, 18 trials compared acupuncture with no acupuncture, for example no treatment, wait-list, rescue medication, usual care, or protocol-guided care. In most trials, the patients received 8 to 15 treatments over 10 to 12 weeks. Patients who were allocated to a wait-list were offered treatment at the end of the trial period.
In the trials comparing acupuncture to no acupuncture the research shows that approximately 90% of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls would be sustained at 12 months. For the trials comparing acupuncture to sham acupuncture the research shows approximately a 50% diminution at 12 months
These data suggest that there are underlying changes occurring which have lasting health benefits. Acupuncture is not about just providing temporary symptom relief, the effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain can provide effective pain relief for up to a year after the treatment.
This also means that calculations of the acupuncture’s cost effectiveness will now look even more positive.
The study was a collaboration between a group of leading researchers and led by Hugh MacPherson who is the clinic director of York Clinic and practices in the clinic on a Tuesday and Saturday.
The full Report on the long term benefits of acupuncture can be found here.
If you would like more information on acupuncture please contact York Clinic or to book an appointment with Hugh MacPherson or any of our other acupuncturists phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our contact form. We will respond to you as quickly as possible.