Acupuncture has a good reputation in the treatment of these conditions and expertise in them is the foundation of our practise.
The number of treatments required varies but in general is few for acute conditions and more for longterm chronic problems. In some cases faster and more cost effective results may be obtained by 2 treatments a week.
Herbal medicine also has a use, reducing inflamation and spasm, and is often indicated for osteo arthritis. It has a primary role in the Chinese medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: A meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain. Pain. 2016 Oct 17. [Epub ahead of print].
There is a large amount of research into the acupuncture treatment of back pain and overall it is shown to have positive and cost effective results. Most of these research treatments use limited protocols and, in practice, patients should expect a much more thorough approach.
A large study done by a group from Seattle has concluded that acupuncture for back pain results in persistent clinically meaningful improvement, which is better than that achieved with standard care. All participants received a self-care booklet with information on exercise and lifestyle modifications and all who received acupuncture of any kind were allowed to continue usual care as required. 638 adults received 10 treatments over seven weeks. After eight weeks, 60% of patients receiving acupuncture showed improvement in their level of pain and function, compared with 39% for those receiving usual care. After one year, 65% of participants receiving acupuncture continued to experience improvement, compared with 50% for standard care. Participants in the usual care group were twice as likely as those receiving real or simulated acupuncture to report a physician or physical therapist visit or to have visited a complementary and alternative medicine provider. At 52 weeks, significantly more participants reported cutting down on activities for more than seven days in the past month in the usual care group (18%) than in the real or simulated acupuncture groups (5%-7%). The authors conclude that, compared with usual care, acupuncture has persistent beneficial effects which result in clinically meaningful improvements in function.
(A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009 May 11;169(9):858-66).
A large percentage of our patients come for treatment of osteo-arthritis and the perception that acupuncture is valuable tool in its management is backed up by a major American study of acupuncture treatment of arthtitis of the knee whcih showed very positive results.
The study, which involved 570 patients, is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
By eight weeks into the study, the acupuncture patients were showing a significant improvement in knee function, and by 14 weeks their pain levels had dropped sharply compared with the sham acupuncture and self-help groups
The outcome was that acupuncture patients showed a 40% decrease in pain, and a nearly 40% improvement in knee function.
The US National Institutes of Health study concluded that acupuncture is an effective complement to standard care.
MAJOR POSITIVE REVIEW
A review, carried out by American researchers, of ten randomised, controlled trials (1456 participants) of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee have concluded that it is an effective treatment for the pain and physical dysfunction caused by the condition. (Acupuncture and osteoarthritis of the knee: a review of randomized, controlled trials. Fam Community Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;31(3):247-54).
Patients with neck and/or shoulder pain are second only to low back pain in frequency seen at our clinic. There are often associated headaches or arm pain.
Acupuncture is the major therapy, often with heating of the needles with moxabustion and some massage. In some chronic cases, arthritis or "frozen shoulder" there is a place for using herbal medicine. The Chinese Medicine view that there is often a need to improve the shoulder joint nutrition, of Qi and Blood, is supported by the Western physiological fact that the shoulder joint is poorly supplied with blood.
Acupuncture can prove to be a better option for healing the most common neck pain, as compared to many current therapies available, says an international study conducted by Canadian, American, South American, Australasian and European researchers.
The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders 236 page review of the current research on neck pain is published in the journal Spine, Feb' 2008
A study from Taiwan compared the efficacy of acupuncture treatment with steroid injection in mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.
A total of 77 patients who fulfilled the criteria for mild-to-moderate CTS were recruited in the study. There were 38 in the acupuncture group and 39 in the steroid group.
CONCLUSIONS: Short-term acupuncture treatment is as effective as short-term low-dose prednisolone for mild-to-moderate CTS. For those who do have an intolerance or contraindication for oral steroid or for those who do not opt for early surgery, acupuncture treatment provides an alternative choice.
Clin J Pain. 2009 May;25(4):327-33.
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