Acupuncture integrates into hospital emergency room care and helps relieve pain and nausea. A new study conducted at the Northern Hospital in Melbourne, Australia demonstrates that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of pain and nausea in the emergency room setting. The research reveals that adding acupuncture to conventional biomedical care results in better patient medical outcomes.
The study was conducted between January and August of 2010. A total of 200 patients presenting to emergency room triage with pain and/or nausea were treated with both acupuncture and biomedical care. This integrative medicine group was compared with another group receiving only biomedical ‘western medicine’ care. The acupuncture group responded with an 84.8% response rate that they would consider repeating acupuncture care. Of that 84.8%, a total of 53.5% noted “definitely yes” to repeating acupuncture care in the emergency room setting.
The most common conditions treated with acupuncture were musculoskeletal concerns. Abdominal and flank pain were the second most common condition. Reviewing all conditions, the integrative medicine acupuncture group demonstrated significant gains over the biomedicine group in significant decreases in both pain and nausea.
The researchers conclude that acupuncture is both safe and effective. They also note that acupuncture is “acceptable” to patients in the emergency room setting. As a result, the researchers have called for a study to understand the cost-effectiveness of implementing acupuncture into the emergency medicine department.
Related research finds acupuncture cost-effective for the treatment of pain. Researchers from the University of York, UK, investigated the economic value of acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain, neck pain, dysmenorrhea, migraines, arthritis and headaches. The researchers documented correlations between the clinical benefits of acupuncture and medical cost savings. The researchers concluded, “Acupuncture appears to be a cost-effective intervention for some chronic pain conditions.”
Another study finds acupuncture more cost-effective for the treatment of herpes zoster (shingles) than pharmaceutical drugs. In the study, a total of 500 patients with herpes zoster were placed in a randomized clinical trial. The researchers found no statistical difference between acupuncture and drugs for the “curative effect.” Both drugs and acupuncture demonstrated the same clinical benefits to patients in the fight against shingles. Also, the acupuncture treatments cost significantly less money than drug therapy.
Zhang, Anthony L., Shefton J. Parker, David McD Taylor, and Charlie CL Xue. "Acupuncture and standard emergency department care for pain and/or nausea and its impact on emergency care delivery: a feasibility study." Acupuncture in Medicine (2014): acupmed-2013.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Volume 20, Issue 5 , Pages 364-374, October 2012. Costs and consequences of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain: A systematic review of economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised controlled trials. E.M.M. Ambrosio, K. Bloor, H. MacPherson. Department of Health Sciences, University of York, UK. published online 08 June 2012.
Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1-2012. Economic Evaluation of Treating Herpes Zoster with Various Methods of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.