Acupuncture the best to ease pain
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A new study has
supported the use of traditional Chinese acupuncture method for pain treatment.
Dr. Philip Lang and colleagues of the University of Munich used quantitative
sensory testing to identify changes in pain sensitivity with acupuncture in 24
After applying acupuncture to the leg, the researchers found that pain
thresholds increased by up to 50 per cent. Effects were noted in both the
treated leg and the untreated (contralateral) leg.
Quantitative sensory testing is used clinically to help physicians understand
specific injuries in nerve fibers associated with chronic pain.
It includes tests of both thermal perception (heat and cold), and mechanical
perception (pressure applied to the skin).
The patterns of response provide diagnostic information in patients with nerve
injury regarding the type of nerve involved, and possible treatments.
The results pointed to two nerve fibres-the ‘A delta’ pain fibers and the ‘C’
pain fibers-as being specifically affected by acupuncture.
Although the effects were modest, the researchers believe they provide the basis
for future studies in individuals with chronic pain, where the effects might be
The study also supported the effects of three different forms of acupuncture-
manual acupuncture needling alone and with the addition of high-frequency and
low-frequency electrical stimulation.
An experienced acupuncturist performed all treatments, applied to acupuncture
points commonly used in pain management.
The results provide a scientific background for the ancient practice of
acupuncture, according to Dr. Dominik Irnich, the study’s leading author.
"Our results show that contralateral stimulation leads to a remarkable pain
relief. This suggests that acupuncturists should needle contralaterally if the
affected side is too painful or not accessible-for example, if the skin is
injured or there is a dressing in place," added Irnich.
Dr. Steven L. Shafer, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia and Professor of
Anesthesiology at Columbia University, views the results as an important
"Reproducible findings are the cornerstone of scientific inquiry. The authors
have clearly described their methodology, and their findings. If other
laboratories can reproduce these results in properly controlled studies, then
this provides further support for the scientific basis of acupuncture.
Additionally, the ability of quantitative sensory testing to identify specific
types of nerves involved in pain transmission may help direct research into the
mechanism of acupuncture analgesia," commented Shafer.
The study has been published in the May issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia,
official journal of the International
Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).
- ANI / Times of India