J Clin Outcomes Manage
Acupuncture for the treatment of common pain conditions: chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, and headache
Sherman KJ, Coeytaux RR
Abstract Objective: To review the effects of acupuncture for 3 common chronic pain conditions: chronic back pain, osteoarthritis (OA), and headache. Methods: Review of meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and various recent well-conducted studies. Results: Overall, acupuncture appears superior to no treatment or usual care for persons with chronic back pain, OA, or headache. However, these findings vary depending on the specific outcome and follow-up period. The magnitude of the effect varies but is consistent, with a small to moderate effect size in most cases. Moreover, acupuncture is not clearly superior to sham acupuncture, although the latter is a controversial control therapy. Acupuncture has a favorable safety profile, with relatively few side effects. Limited evidence suggests that acupuncture is cost-effective. Conclusions: The evidence suggests that acupuncture is a reasonable therapeutic option for chronic back pain, OA, and headache but is not the clear therapy of choice for any of these conditions. Acupuncture may be especially valuable for patients who prefer it to other options or those concerned about using analgesic medications.
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