Acupuncture: Does it work?
Every person who suffers from some sort of chronic pain has probably wondered about acupuncture. Could it help them? New research indicates that the answer may be a solid yes! In a recent study funded by the NCCAM the evidence supported the benefits of acupuncture. The results were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (September, 2012) and provided some interesting insights into how acupuncture may help.
Using meta-analyses that combined data from 29 experimental studies which included a total of 17,922 people the effects of acupuncture were examined for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, shoulder pain, and chronic headaches.
The authors report that the effects were clinically relevant and that acupuncture was more than a placebo. Interestingly, the evidence seemed to indicate that the effects of acupuncture resulted from two components. One of these components seemed to be a patient’s belief that the acupuncture would work and related placebo/context effects. The other component had to with specifics of the treatment such as location and needle depth.
At first glance a skeptic might think that acupuncture doesn’t work, or perhaps only minimally, if a patient’s beliefs can have such a large impact. But consider this. The link between the mind and body is still not well understood. For example, think about when you feel nervous and your stomach rumbles (the mind affected the body). So when a person believes or expects a treatment to work the mind may be actually inducing physical changes in the body. These changes may add to the actual effects of the acupuncture or be the cause, but in any case the patient is the winner if chronic pain is reduced.
So if you are experiencing chronic pain you may wish to consider investigating whether acupuncture is right for you. There are no guarantees, but on the other hand – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Yours in Good Health,
Alan Marc, Ph.D.