Benefits of acupuncture last a year!
A powerful study has been published showing that 90% of the benefits of acupuncture would last a year!
This evidence has been extracted from a huge data-set amassed by a team at York University headed up by Hugh MacPherson. It includes nearly 18,000 patients from 29 clinical trials that focus on back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headache and migraine and osteo-arthritis of the knee. In this sub-section 20 studies were included that contained over 6300 patients. The research was published in the prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, Pain.
The researchers wanted to address the question of how long the effects of acupuncture would last in comparison to standard medical treatment. As you are probably aware, standard treatment for the above pain conditions generally consists of pain killing medication. These pills have to be taken continuously to maintain their pain killing effects. In chronic cases they have no curative effects and merely mask the symptoms of the underlying condition. Depending on the medication they also have a variety of dangerous side effects; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory’s can greatly increase the chance of heart attacks and stroke and opioid based pain killers kill more people than car accidents. Acupuncture, on the other hand has been shown, through the same data-set and many other studies, to be at least as effective, if not more effective, than current medical treatments as well as safe and in more and more studies cost-effective.
After statistical analysis the researchers were able to state that, ‘the effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain do not seem to decrease importantly over 12 months. Patients can generally be reassured that treatment effects persist.’ Acupuncture is therefore, in the broadest sense of the term, more effective than current medical treatment. And, as importantly, safe.
The researchers go on to recommend that their findings are considered when looking at the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture as estimates will vary depending on the duration of the effects of treatment. It will also be useful for policy-makers when considering which treatment strategies give the best effects, with the least side-effects and over the longest period of time.
They finish up by requesting further long-term research. I agree that this is important so that we can confirm this important finding and discover how much of the effects last longer; 2 years, or even 5 or 10 years. Given that acupuncture is a holistic approach, and that many acupuncturists would also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent further issues it would be interesting to see how long the benefits could last.
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