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Acupuncture and Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) attributable to conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain is the most common cause of disability globally, for which no effective remedy exists. Although acupuncture is one of the most popular sensory stimulation therapies and is widely used in numerous pain conditions, its efficacy remains controversial. This review summarizes and expands upon the current research on the therapeutic properties of acupuncture for patients with CMP to better inform clinical decision-making and develop patient-focused treatments.

Recent Findings

We examined 16 review articles and 11 randomized controlled trials published in the last 5 years on the clinical efficacy of acupuncture in adults with CMP conditions. The available evidence suggests that acupuncture does have short-term pain relief benefits for patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain and is a safe and reasonable referral option. Acupuncture may also have a beneficial role for fibromyalgia. However, the available evidence does not support the use of acupuncture for treating hip osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Summary

The majority of studies concluded the superiority of short-term analgesic effects over various controls and suggested that acupuncture may be efficacious for CMP. These reported benefits should be verified in more high-quality randomized controlled trials.

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References

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Funding

Dr. Wang is supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, R01AT006367, R01AT005521 and K24AT007323) and the Rheumatology Research Foundation. The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health. The organizations mentioned here did not have any role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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Zhang, Y., Wang, C. Acupuncture and Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. Curr Rheumatol Rep 22, 80 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11926-020-00954-z

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Keywords

  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Acupuncture
  • Treatment
  • Alternative medicine
  • Complementary medicine