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A truly groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, titled “Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED”, reveals that acupuncture — one of the oldest techniques to treat pain — is more effective, faster in relieving pain, and with less adverse effects, than intravenous morphine.

Acupuncture and Pain

I have been treating pain for many years now, from simple aches and pains to Sciatica and associated back pain, Arthritis, Sports Injuris and beyond with great sucess.

I have also treated many patients with Cancer to help with their chronic pain from the disease and sometimes as a consequence of surgery or treatments.

So, to me, this is not a surprising result and of course, there will be the usual naysayers and professional skeptics who will line up to shout ‘NO! this cannot be’ whilst forgetting that western medicine does not know everything and fails a lot of people in pain with doctors handing out box after box of pills or a patch.

Of course, doctors do not want to see you in pain, but as pain is poorly understood and how a lot of the drugs work is just a mystery to science, so they run out of tools very quickly.

Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective intervention with very few side effects, a bit of bruising now and again and some sleepiness after treatment but unfortunately it’s very hard to get on the NHS unless you get referred to a pain clinic.

If you are in pain do not just suffer please contact me to discuss your issue and I will give you my honest opinion on if we can treat it.

I have clinics in Sale (Manchester) and Pendlebury (Salford, Swinton) and if needed home visits can be arranged if you are too unwell to make the journy.

Generally you should know within 4 to 6 sessions if Acupuncture is going to work for you.

Now here is the science bit:

Acupuncture is one of the oldest techniques to treat pain and is commonly used for a large number of indications. However, there is no sufficient evidence to support its application in acute medical settings.

This was a prospective, randomized trial of acupuncture vs morphine to treat ED patients with acute onset moderate to severe pain.

Primary outcome consists of the degree of pain relief with significant pain reduction defined as a pain score reduction ?50% of its initial value. We also analyzed the pain reduction time and the occurrence of short-term adverse effects. We included in the protocol 300 patients with acute pain: 150 in each group.

Success rate was significantly different between the 2 groups (92% in the acupuncture group vs 78% in the morphine group P?<?.001). Resolution time was 16?±?8 minutes in the acupuncture group vs 28?±?14 minutes in the morphine group (P?<?.005). Overall, 89 patients (29.6%) experienced minor adverse effects: 85 (56.6%) in morphine group and 4 (2.6%) in acupuncture group (P?<?.001). No major adverse effects were recorded during the study protocol. In patients with acute pain presenting to the ED, acupuncture was associated with more effective and faster analgesia with better tolerance.

This article provides an update on one of the oldest pain relief techniques (acupuncture) that could find a central place in the management of acute care settings. This should be considered especially in today’s increasingly complicated and polymedicated patients to avoid adverse drug reactions.

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