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More Evidence Acupuncture Can Ease Chronic Pain
Date:9/11/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to the relief of chronic pain, acupuncture is indeed effective, a sweeping review of previous research finds.

The conclusion stems from a fresh analysis of initial raw data that had been collected by 29 studies previously conducted in Germany, Spain, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom. Collectively, these past investigations had involved nearly 18,000 patients.

"We looked at only the best-quality studies," said study author Andrew Vickers, an attending research methodologist and statistician at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City. "So I can say with confidence that what we found is the strongest evidence to date supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture."

The study appeared online Sept. 10 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Acupuncture is age-old Chinese medicinal practice of carefully targeted needle insertion and stimulation at specific points of the body. The review authors acknowledge that although 3 million Americans now undergo acupuncture each year, it's still the subject of a great deal of debate among Western medicine practitioners with respect to its true therapeutic value.

Many experts theorize that patients who attest to notable pain relief following an acupuncture procedure are simply deriving the benefits of deeply wishful thinking (otherwise known as the "placebo effect"), rather than any true physiological improvements.

The authors of the new study looked at acupuncture's potential impact on four distinct types of chronic pain that each patient had endured for at least one month: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache (including migraines) and shoulder pain.

All studies included in the review were randomized controlled trials, considered the gold standard of research. As well, all involved a comparison between acupuncture and
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