Acupuncture

What Disorders Does Acupuncture Treat?

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a review and analysis of controlled clinical trials on acupuncture. They listed the following as “Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials – to be an effective treatment”, viz:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression followingstroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labour
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibulardysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Tennis elbow

In addition, the US National Institute of Health Consensus Statement on Acupuncture states:

“Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practised in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful.”

Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anaesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.