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The Use of Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

Introduction

The studied question refers to the use of acupuncture in comparison to opioid medicine when treating chronic pain in adults from 40 to 60 years of age. Opioid medicine is often prescribed as the primary treatment of chronic pain. Due to an ongoing opioid crisis in the United States, researchers are interested in finding new ways of treating conditions associated with persisting pain. One of the proposed alternative methods, which is being widely researched, is acupuncture. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the effects of this intervention on chronic pain by examining two studies that reveal the positive correlation between the variables.

Summary

Opioids are addictive and can lead to drug misuse, which is relatively common among patients. Furthermore, they are associated with such detrimental consequences as injury and death (Davis et al., 2018). In contrast, Davis et al. (2018) suggested that acupuncture is at low risk of serious side effects. The research involved 156 participants, 91% of which reported improvement in their physical and mental conditions after a series of acupuncture treatments (Davis et al., 2018). Additionally, due to this intervention, 32% of participants undergoing opioid treatment reported a reduction in use (Davis et al., 2018). Therefore, acupuncture proves not only effective but is also successful at decreasing drug use, which is important amidst an opioid crisis.

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The evidence for the use of acupuncture as a treatment of chronic pain is substantial. The research conducted by He et al. (2020) extracted data from more than 2000 studies and found a positive effect on reducing pain intensity in cancer patients. The research focused on a specific condition and, therefore, also incorporated non-chronic pain. The results, however, focused on the effectiveness of the intervention in combating both kinds of pain (He et al., 2020). Considering the large research data regarding the positive trend of acupuncture in reducing different types of pain symptoms, this method can serve as beneficial for various conditions.

Conclusion

In comparison to opioid medicine, acupuncture is a safer and more successful treatment for long-lasting pain conditions. Research has not found prominent side effects of its use, and therefore, it does not harm one’s well-being any further. Additionally, this treatment positively improves the mental and physical health of patients. To address the USA opioid crisis, acupuncture can be considered an alternative to the usual treatment of chronic and acute pain.

References

Davis, R. T., Badger, G., Valentine, K., Cavert, A., & Coeytaux, R. R. (2018). Acupuncture for chronic pain in the Vermont Medicaid population: A prospective, pragmatic intervention trial. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 7. Web.

He, Y., Guo, X., May, B. H., Zhang, A. L., Liu, Y., Lu, C., Mao, J. J., Xue, C. C., & Zhang, H. (2020). Clinical evidence for association of acupuncture and acupressure with improved cancer pain. JAMA Oncology, 6(2), 271-278. Web.

Evaluation Table

Study 1 Study 2
Citation: (i.e., author(s), date of publication, & title)Level of Evidence He, Y., Guo, X., May, B. H., Zhang, A. L., Liu, Y., Lu, C., Mao, J. J., Xue, C. C., & Zhang, H. (2020). Clinical evidence for association of acupuncture and acupressure with improved cancer pain. JAMA Oncology, 6(2), 271. Web.Level: 1 Davis, R. T., Badger, G., Valentine, K., Cavert, A., & Coeytaux, R. R. (2018). Acupuncture for chronic pain in the Vermont Medicaid population: A prospective, pragmatic intervention trial. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 7. Web.
Level: 1
Purpose of the Study
  • To find evidence of positive effects of acupuncture and acupressure on pain reduction in cancer patients
  • To examine and evaluate feasibility, effectiveness, and acceptability of ACU for Vermont Medicaid patients with CP
Theory or Conceptual Framework
  • The effects of ACU and acupressure on cancer pain reduction
  • The effects of ACU on CP reduction
Design/ Method
  • Systematic review & meta-analysis
  • 3 English-language and 4 Chinese-language databases were searched for RCTs
  • Cancer patients who received ACU and acupressure treatments
  • Medicaid users were offered up to 12 acupuncture treatments over 60 days
  • PROMIS questionnaires were administered before and after the study to evaluate the physical and mental conditions of the participants
Sample/ Setting
  • Systematic review – 1111 cancer patients from 17 RCTs
  • Meta-analysis – 920 cancer patients from 14 RCTs
  • 156 participants
  • 111 women (71%) & 45 men (29%)
  • Various kinds of chronic pain
Major Variables Studied and
Their Definitions
  • ACU – a nonpharmacologic treatment that incorporates inserting fine needles into the patient’s body
  • Cancer pain – a chronic pain and pain associated with cancer development
  • ACU – a nonpharmacologic treatment that incorporates inserting fine needles into the patient’s body
  • CP – a condition that involves the presence of persisting and long-lasting pain
Measurement of Major Variables
  • Pain intensity measured by the Brief Pain Inventory, Numerical Rating Scale, Visual Analog Scale, or Verbal Rating Scale
  • PROMIS questionnaires –

open-ended questionnaires examining the physical and mental conditions before and after ACU

Data
Analysis
  • Data was extracted from existing RCPs and arranged in tables displaying intervention types and their effects on pain intensity
  • Data regarding patients receiving ACU and acupressure was compared to the data from the control group
  • Data on the number and styles of ACU treatments and kinds of CP was displayed in tables
  • Collection, comparison, and evaluation of data from questionnaires administered before and after ACU
Study Findings
  • ACU and acupressure was significantly effective in reducing cancer pain and decreasing the use of analgesics
  • ACU reduced pain intensity, fatigue, depression, social isolation, and anxiety
  • ACU positively improved physical function and sleep disturbance
  • 91% of participants reported improvements in their conditions
Strength of the Evidence (i.e., level of evidence + quality [study strengths and weaknesses
  • Strengths:
    • Data extracted from a large number of studies, therefore, the research is generalizable
  • Weaknesses:
    • Significant heterogeneity was observed, lowering the evidence grade to moderate
  • Strengths:
    • The results show clear evidence of the positive effects of ACU on patients with CP
  • Weaknesses:
    • Placebo or sham ACU comparison groups were not included