Hye Lin Woo, KMD,a Hae Ri Ji, KMD,e Yeon Kyoung Pak, KMD,e Hojung Lee,c Su Jeong Heo, KMD, PhD,dJin Moo Lee, KMD, PhD,b and Kyoung Sun Park, KMD, PhDb,∗
Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Jun; 97(23): e11007.
This systematic review aimed to evaluate the current evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of acupuncture on primary dysmenorrhea.
Ten electronic databases were searched for relevant articles published before December 2017. This study included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of women with primary dysmenorrhea; these RCTs compared acupuncture to no treatment, placebo, or medications, and measured menstrual pain intensity and its associated symptoms. Three independent reviewers participated in data extraction and assessment. The risk of bias in each article was assessed, and a meta-analysis was conducted according to the types of acupuncture. The results were expressed as mean difference (MD) or standardized mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
This review included 60 RCTs; the meta-analysis included 49 RCTs. Most studies showed a low or unclear risk of bias. We found that compared to no treatment, manual acupuncture (MA) (SMD = −1.59, 95% CI [−2.12, −1.06]) and electro-acupuncture (EA) was more effective at reducing menstrual pain, and compared to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), MA (SMD = −0.63, 95% CI [−0.88, −0.37]) and warm acupuncture (WA) (SMD = −1.12, 95% CI [−1.81, −0.43]) were more effective at reducing menstrual pain. Some studies showed that the efficacy of acupuncture was maintained after a short-term follow-up.
The results of this study suggest that acupuncture might reduce menstrual pain and associated symptoms more effectively compared to no treatment or NSAIDs, and the efficacy could be maintained during a short-term follow-up period. Despite limitations due to the low quality and methodological restrictions of the included studies, acupuncture might be used as an effective and safe treatment for females with primary dysmenorrhea.
TCM acupuncture, irrespective of treatment timing, provided significant clinical benefits for women with primary dysmenorrhea, with reductions in pain severity, duration, secondary menstrual symptoms and analgesic intake.
Conclusion of this research: acupuncture treatment reduced menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment and this was sustained for up to one year after trial entry. The effect of changing mode of stimulation or frequency of treatment on menstrual pain was not significant. This may be due to a lack of power. The role of acupuncture stimulation on menstrual pain needs to be investigated in appropriately powered randomised controlled trials.
V. Iorno,etl. Acupuncture Treatment of Dysmenorrhea Resistant to Conventional Medical Treatment. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Jun; 5(2): 227–230.
Acupuncture for dysmenorrhoea. Smith CA, etl.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 18;
Due to the large volume of low-quality studies, this Cochrane review found there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate whether or not acupuncture or acupressure are effective in treating primary dysmenorrhoea,
Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Nov-Dec;16(6):30-5. Liu H, Li H, Xu M, Chung KF, Zhang SP.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a commonly seen pain condition with limited treatments available, and acupuncture is widely used for pain conditions, including TN.
To review the efficacy of acupuncture treatment for TN.
English and Chinese databases were searched extensively to identify randomized controlled studies of acupuncture treatment for TN. Selected studies were assessed for methodological quality. Odds ratios (OR) between treatment and control groups were used to assess efficacy.
Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria with 506 people in the acupuncture arm and 414 people in the control arm, in which carbamazepine (CBZ) was used as the control treatment. They were all low-quality studies, hence precluding meta-analysis. Only four trials reported that acupuncture was superior to CBZ, and the remaining eight studies showed no difference between the treatment and control groups. Adverse effects of acupuncture, which were reported in three studies, were mild.
The evidence reviewed previously suggests that acupuncture is of similar efficacy as CBZ but with fewer adverse effects in treatment of TN. However, the evidence is weak because of low methodological quality of the reviewed studies. Further studies with improved methodologies are recommended to support the use of acupuncture for TN.
To evaluate the treatment effect of acupuncture on patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (ITN) by case-control longitudinal blinded study.
Sixty ITN patients and 30 healthy subjects were included. The ITN patients were randomly assigned to acupuncture group (15 cases), sham-acupuncture group (15 cases) and carbamazepine group (30 cases), respectively. Clinical orofacial evaluation (including pain intensity and medication doses), research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders (RDC/TMD) and Helkimo indexes (for functional evaluation of the masticatory system), and quantitative sensory testing for sensory thresholds (gustative, olfactory, cold, warm, touch, vibration and superficial and deep pain) were evaluated before treatment, immediately after treatment, and 6 months after treatment.
The mean pain intensity by the Visual Analogue Scale only decreased in the acupuncture group at the last evaluation (P=0.012). Patients in the sham-acupuncture group had an increase in carbamazepine doses according to the prescriptions (P<0.01). There was a reduction in secondary myofascial pain and mandibular limitations at the acupuncture and sham-acupuncture groups, however only the acupuncture group kept the changes after 6 months (P<0.01, P=0.023). There was a decrease in mechanical thresholds in the acupuncture group (tactile, P<0.01; vibration, P=0.027) and an increase in deep pain thresholds in both acupuncture and sham-acupuncture groups (P=0.013).
Acupuncture can be an option in the treatment of ITN due to its analgesic effect in both ITN and secondary myofascial pain associated with it.
Mao JJ1, Farrar JT, Bruner D, Zee J, Bowman M, Seluzicki C, DeMichele A, Xie SX.
Although fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety are associated with pain in breast cancer patients, it is unknown whether acupuncture can decrease these comorbid symptoms in cancer patients with pain. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) on fatigue, sleep, and psychological distress in breast cancer survivors who experience joint pain related to aromatase inhibitors (AIs).
The authors performed a randomized controlled trial of an 8-week course of EA compared with a waitlist control (WLC) group and a sham acupuncture (SA) group in postmenopausal women with breast cancer who self-reported joint pain attributable to AIs. Fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression were measured using the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The effects of EA and SA versus WLC on these outcomes were evaluated using mixed-effects models.
Of the 67 randomly assigned patients, baseline pain interference was associated with fatigue (Pearson correlation coefficient [r]=0.75; P < .001), sleep disturbance (r=0.38; P=.0026), and depression (r=0.58; P < .001). Compared with the WLC condition, EA produced significant improvements in fatigue (P=.0095), anxiety (P=.044), and depression (P=.015) and a nonsignificant improvement in sleep disturbance (P=.058) during the 12-week intervention and follow-up period. In contrast, SA did not produce significant reductions in fatigue or anxiety symptoms but did produce a significant improvement in depression compared with the WLC condition (P=.0088).
Compared with usual care, EA produced significant improvements in fatigue, anxiety, and depression; whereas SA improved only depression in women experiencing AI-related arthralgia.