The beneficial effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain appear to persist for at least 12 months, according to a secondary analysis of data from the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration. Professor Hugh MacPherson and co-authors used meta-analytic techniques to determine the trajectory of post-treatment pain scores from 20 high quality randomised trials of acupuncture for chronic pain, including data from 6376 patients. In trials comparing acupuncture to a no acupuncture control (wait-list, usual care, etc), about 90 per cent of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls was sustained at 12 months from the end of treatment. In trials comparing acupuncture to sham, approximately 50 per cent of the benefit for acupuncture relative to sham was sustained at 12 months. The authors conclude that patients can be reassured that the treatment effects of acupuncture are long-lasting and that this should be taken into account in studies of the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture.
The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: A meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain. Pain. 2016 Oct 17. [Epub ahead of print].