Printed from : The Leisure Media Co Ltd

21 Jun 2017

Marc Cohen leads study finding acupuncture relieves pain in emergency patients
BY Jane Kitchen

Marc Cohen leads study finding acupuncture relieves pain in emergency patients

A large, randomised controlled trial of the use of acupuncture in emergency departments has found the treatment is a safe and effective alternative to pain-relieving drugs for some patients.

Led by professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia – who is chair of the Global Wellness Institute's World Retreat Study and very involved in the global spa industry – the study found acupuncture was as effective as pain medicine in providing long-term relief for patients who came to emergency in considerable pain.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, involved 528 patients with acute low back pain, migraine or ankle sprains who presented at the emergency departments of four Melbourne hospitals between January 2010 and December 2011.

“While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments,” said Cohen. “Emergency nurses and doctors need a variety of pain-relieving options when treating patients, given the concerns around opioids such as morphine, which carry the risk of addiction when used long-term.”

Patients who identified their level of pain as at least 4 on a 10-point scale randomly received one of three types of treatment: acupuncture alone, acupuncture plus pharmacotherapy, or pharmacotherapy alone.

One hour after treatment, less than 40 per cent of patients across all three groups felt any significant pain reduction (two or more points), but 48 hours later, the vast majority found their treatment acceptable, with 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients saying they would probably or definitely repeat their treatment. This is compared with 80.8 in the combined group, and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy-only group.

Cohen said the study has shown acupuncture is a viable alternative, and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs because of other medical conditions.

But, he said, “it’s clear we need more research overall to develop better medical approaches to pain management, as the study also showed patients initially remained in some pain, no matter what treatment they received.”

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