Acupuncture Decreases Surgical Pain

A new study from the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina proves that the use of acupuncture before and after surgery reduces patients' post-operative pain as well as the need for pain-killing medication. The researchers analyzed the results from 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture proving that is valuable from the control of pain in surgery patients. The 15 trials showed that the patients getting acupuncture before or during various types of operations had significantly less pain afterward than patients who did not get acupuncture.  These patients also required less morphine or other opioid pain medication after surgery, which reduced the side effects of nausea(1.5 times lower), vomiting, dizziness (1.6 times lower), and urinary retention (3.5 times lower) in comparison to these types of drugs.  This information continues to support the new research that the value of acupuncture is apparent for patients having surgical procedures.

The National Institute of Health (NIH), states that acupuncture has also been shown to reduce nausea after chemotherapy and surgery. Dr. Tong-Joo Gan, vice chairman of Duke's anesthesiology department states, "the use of acupuncture is still very under-appreciated...Western doctors are typically not trained (in acupuncture) and they really are not familiar with how it works," Gan said. "I think practitioners such as surgeons and anesthesiologists need to have an open mind."

Dr. Gan continued to share that he uses acupuncture "all the time...[giving] patients acupuncture about half an hour before surgery and continue during surgery. It can reduce post-operative pain."

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, scientists do not fully understand how acupuncture works, believing it might help the activity of the body's pain-killing chemicals or affect the regulation of blood pressure and flow.

"I think it is generally applicable to a number of different procedures," Gan said. "In the studies, we looked at abdominal procedures, orthopedic procedures, [and] gynecological procedures."

The research was presented at a conference of the American Society for Anesthesiology in San Francisco.