Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis (Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration)

The Complementary Medicine Evaluation Group has helped conduct one of the largest studies of acupuncture for chronic pain conditions, including the conditions of back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches. The project was funded primarily by the US National Institutes for Health and in part by the UK National Institute for Health Research as part of a Programme Grant for Applied Research (PGfAR) (ref: RP-PG-0707-10186).

The results have recently been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Individual patient data from 29 randomized controlled trials with 17,922 patients were analysed and the results show that acupuncture is better than usual care and better than sham (placebo) acupuncture for the treatment of back and neck pain, osteoarthritis and chronic headaches. From the publication, the authors state, "Our results from individual patient data meta-analyses of nearly 18,000 randomized patients in high-quality RCTs provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain."

Reference: Vickers A, Cronin A, Maschino A, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster N, Sherman C, Witt, C, LindeK, for the Acupuncture Triallists Collaboration. "Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis." Arch Intern Med. Published online September 10, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.

In addition to the trial the research team have conducted a number of associated studies which may be of further interest:

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