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The Effectiveness of Acupuncture on Relieving Pain

If you’ve been thinking about trying acupuncture to relieve pain, you may be wondering if it really works. This article will explore the different types of acupuncture, including manual acupuncture and auricular acupressure. It also addresses sham acupuncture, which is an unqualified attempt to stimulate certain points without any effect. While this method is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, there are some caveats you should be aware of.


A recent Cochrane Review found evidence that acupressure is effective in relieving various types of pain. The effectiveness of acupressure was evaluated by examining studies on the effect of acupressure on pain and fatigue. Patients who received acupressure showed improved pain and fatigue. Chronic pain is difficult to deal with and can interfere with sleep and mood. In addition to being effective, acupressure can be performed by patients at home and poses few risks, and is inexpensive and easy to learn.

Acupuncture practitioners apply pressure on specific points in the body to influence the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as pain. The practitioner chooses the points based on the symptoms being experienced. Some acupressure points are far from the symptoms, while others are far away. For example, an acupressure point on the foot can be applied to alleviate a headache. Although few studies have been done on acupressure’s effectiveness, some have shown some promise, including pain relief and nausea.

auricular acupressure

In a recent study, UCLA Pain Management Center researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial to determine whether auricular acupressure can relieve pain. The study included 16 healthy volunteers aged 20 to 24 years, weighing 50 to 93 kg and measuring between 150 and 184 cm in height. The participants did not have piercings on any point of interest in the ear.

Auricular acupressure is effective for alleviating pain and anxiety and may help improve the patient’s experience of health care, even in the prehospital setting. The treatment is simple and inexpensive to learn. It is an excellent first aid intervention and could be performed by any medical professional with minimal training. In fact, physicians without any training in traditional Chinese medicine can learn the technique in a few hours. Moreover, auricular acupuncture can be practiced by non-traditional medical staff.

sham acupuncture

Studies comparing acupuncture with placebo treatments have produced mixed results. These studies have not controlled for multiple factors and therefore cannot provide general conclusions about the effectiveness of acupuncture. Acupuncture has many different types and can be used for a wide variety of conditions, from headaches to shoulder pain. Moreover, the results can be very varied, and it’s difficult to compare sham acupuncture with real treatment, despite the widespread use of the latter.

A single case study was performed to test acupuncture’s efficacy in treating tension headaches. In this study, thirty patients underwent treatment with true acupuncture and sham acupuncture. Patients were assessed according to five measures of pain intensity, duration, frequency, and headache index, as well as their use of analgesics. Patients were assessed at baseline, four to eight weeks after the acupuncture treatment, and at one, six, and twelve months afterward.

Manual acupuncture

It has been found that manual acupuncture is effective in reducing pain. This is consistent with studies that show that acupuncture reduces pain in patients with chronic back and neck pain. A study in Japan, conducted by Nabeta and Kawakita, also showed that manual acupuncture reduced the pain experienced by participants with chronic shoulder and neck pain. The study concluded that manual acupuncture was significantly more effective than electroacupuncture in the reduction of period pain.

The results of this study have been encouraging. The technique can be performed on people with multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, or even gout. In a recent randomized, controlled study, 68 patients with COPD were randomly assigned to receive manual acupuncture versus electrical stimulation (SA). The acupuncture treatments were administered to a group of patients who were not aware that their assignment was a random process. Participants were evaluated for pain using the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire and Neuropathic Pain Scale. The data were analyzed using basic statistics.


Researchers conducted a study to determine if electro-acupuncture can reduce the intensity of pain. Participants were randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups, and electroacupuncture was performed twice weekly for 30 minutes on the corresponding acupoints. The primary outcome measured pain intensity; secondary outcomes measured overall effect and physical functioning, and psychosocial factors were evaluated. Participants were evaluated before and after each session, as well as six and 12 months after electroacupuncture.

Both groups will receive electroacupuncture, though participants in the control group will not receive electrical stimulation. The acupuncturist will activate channels not connected to the patient, ensuring that only acupoints are affected. The electrodes are placed on the acupoints, ensuring that the needles do not perforate the skin and do not cause “deQi” effects.

Non-needle acupuncture

Non-needle acupuncture for reducing postoperative pain may be a viable option for patients. Researchers have reported that needle-free electroacupuncture at ST36 can significantly reduce the amount of pain experienced by patients. Patients were randomly assigned to four groups: one received sham acupuncture (no stimulation), one received high-frequency stimulation, and the fourth received low-frequency stimulation (no stimulation). All subjects completed a Visual Analogue Scale to measure the level of pain after treatment. After three, eight, and 16 hours, differences were noted in the mean values.

While acupuncture is a widely accepted and regulated practice, there are still some risks involved. However, there are few serious side effects if the practitioner is competent and uses sterile needles. Infrequent side effects of acupuncture include minor bleeding and bruising, but rarely result in permanent damage. Since needle insertion is a relatively minor procedure, the risk of infection is low. While needle-free acupuncture may be a safer option, people with certain medical conditions or those taking blood thinners should not undergo acupuncture.

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