A new study looked to determine if acupuncture could actually be a useful treatment method for patients coming into the emergency room with considerable pains.
Research was carried out by RMIT School of Health and Biomedical Sciences specialists, led by Professor Marc Cohen. A study paper is available in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Acupuncture is a key element in traditional Chinese medicine. The term is used for describing the series of procedures needed to stimulate certain points of the body. This can be achieved by employing a variety of techniques.
It is method widely used in community settings, but as the team points out, it is rarely employed in hospital emergency rooms. So the research team looked to determine its potential, safety, and efficiency.
Acupuncture, New ER Treatment?
The controlled and randomized trial was conducted in four hospital emergency rooms in Australia in between January 2010 to December 2011. It involved 528 patients, which made it the largest such study. The participants came in to the ER accusing migraines, ankle sprains, or acute low back pain.
There, they were asked to rate their pain level on a scale from 1 to 10. Those suffering from at least a 4 received one of three treatment methods.
Some received painkillers, while others received pharmacotherapy as well as acupuncture. Other patients got an acupuncture-only treatment.
An hour following the treatment, over 80 percent of the patients were still accusing 4 or higher level pains. Also, only 40 percent of all those treated reported feeling a significant (2 points) reduction.
However, after around 48 hours, a large majority of the patients reported feeling better. Among them, over 82 percent of the acupuncture-only group stated that would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ chose such a method again. This was higher than the 78 percent that would rather receive only pain medication. Or even the almost 81 percent who would choose a mixed therapy.
“[…] further studies are needed on ways to improve pain management overall in emergency departments, and the potential role for acupuncture in this,” states Cohen.
He also points out the need to determine the feasibility of including acupuncture in an ER setting. Or the conditions that lead to the best pain response to such a method.
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