In the early 1990s, by an act of congress, the NIH formed an Office of Alternative Medicine, which subsequently became the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). The main objective of the center was to fund basic and clinical research in various complementary alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with the ultimate goal of proving clinician's evidence-based approaches. With the support from NIH, the first consensus guidelines for clinicians summarized the evidence on the use and effectiveness of acupuncture in a variety of medical conditions. Although the consensus statement did not strongly recommend the use of acupuncture for all the pain syndromes, acupuncture has been accepted as a technique for peripheral sensory stimulation in the therapy of painful syndromes. Similar to other CAM researches, the validity of clinical acupuncture studies and their outcomes are significantly affected by the methodological approach employed. Important study variables include study design, sample size, proper placebo or sham, treatment duration, post-treatment follow-up, and outcome measurements.
Over the last three decades, more than 500 randomized, controlled trials have evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture (Greenwood 2002). A growing number of systemic reviews and meta-analysis that use stringent inclusion criteria have begun to synthesize this research. The reviews most often report that trials of acupuncture efficacy are equivocal or contradictory. This chapter will discuss the efficacy of acupuncture for both acute and chronic pain symptoms. Table 16.2 outlines common acupuncture points used for pain in various clinical acupuncture trials.
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Have You Always Been Curious About Acupuncture, But Were Never Quite Sure Where To Stick The Needles? If you associate acupuncture with needles, pain and weird alternative medicine then you are horribly misinformed about the benefits of the world's oldest form of medicinal treatment.