In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012, researchers led by Andrew Vickers, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, report that acupuncture is effective in reducing people’s chronic pain more so than standard pain treatment and slightly better than using sham needles, suggesting that the benefits of real acupuncture are due to something more than the placebo effect.

A pair of studies – one conducted at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the other at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) may have finally demonstrated the proof that acupuncture advocates have been looking for. The studies show objective evidence that acupuncture works as a form of pain relief and that certain types of acupuncture work better than others.

The New Jersey study, while smaller, produced similarly encouraging results. Twelve patients were monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technology that reveals what parts of the brain are receiving increased blood flow. Increased blood flow to different areas of the brain indicates that those areas of the brain are being stimulated. During 30 minutes of treatment, the patients rated their pain level on a scale of one to 10 every five minutes, with the fMRI continually monitoring their brains. In four of the seven subjects who received traditional acupuncture (57%), the fMRI showed considerably decreased levels of brain activity associated with the pain.

In a randomized trial of 80 patients having total knee arthroplasty, acupuncture was associated with greater reduction in pain and swelling, and quicker return to preoperative range of motion compared to range of motion exercises alone. Electroacupuncture was also associated with reduced pain, less pain medication, and improved time to walking.

Please let your friends and family know about the amazing benefits of acupuncture without the unwanted side effects of medication!

Sharon McDermott, L.Ac.

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