New research concludes that acupuncture reduces postoperative pain. Researchers tested the effects of electro-acupuncture to determine its ability to reduce postoperative pain caused by incisions. The study compared a control group with a medication group, an acupuncture group and a sham acupuncture group. The type of sham acupuncture used in this rat-model study was the application of acupuncture needles to non-acupuncture point locations. The researchers discovered that 100 Hz electricity bilaterally applied to acupoint ST36 (Zusanli) reduced pain comparable to that of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug carprofen.
Sham acupuncture was determined to be ineffective and true acupuncture reduced mechanical nociception. Nociceptors are free nerve endings and nociception is the neural activity involved in processing mechanical, thermal and chemical stimuli. Excitation of the nerve fibers during nociception often results in pain and electro-acupuncture successfully reduced pain levels in this study.
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Braz J Med Biol Res provisional Epub Aug 23, 2012. doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500133. High-frequency electroacupuncture versus carprofen in an incisional pain model in rats. F.M. Teixeira, L.L. Castro, R.T. Ferreira, P.A. Pires, F.A. Vanderlinde and M.A. Medeiros. Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.