Acupuncture and postoperative pain. Systematic reviews suggest that acupuncture and postoperative pain are effective. Ear acupuncture or auricular therapy is a useful adjunctive treatment for post-operative pain management (Sun 2008; Usinchenko 2008). Several randomized controlled trials have found acupuncture and electroacupuncture to reduce post-operative pain, the use of patient-controlled analgesia (opioids), and postoperative nausea and vomiting (Salmeddini 2010; Larson 2010; Parthasarathy 2009; Wu 2009; Grube 2009; Wong 2006).
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the analytical brain, which is responsible for anxiety.
For social reasons, one patient discontinued acupuncture after seven treatments. All other patients finished the two courses of treatment. At the end of the acupuncture therapy, all five patients reported improvement of pain, numbness, and tingling. The average pain score was reduced to 3 out of 10 (range 1 to 5). Improved symptoms were seen after the first treatment in one patient who had experienced six months of CIPN. Patients with severe numbness in their fingers and toes, who were treated by needling the jing points, showed remarkable improvement in the sensation and movement of the treated fingers and toes after the first treatment. All patients had a reduction in analgesic dosage. Gait was significantly improved in all three patients who complained of imbalance. There were no adverse side effects. At six months follow up, symptom control persisted in four patients. One patient with a history of diabetes and multiple sclerosis reported improvement of symptoms for only one month. Acupuncture and postoperative pain is a valid modality for those searching for improved recovery, pain relief, and stress relief. Click here to see other recent blogs about acupuncture with Dr. Tony Willcox.