Washington: Researchers have presented opposing viewpoints regarding the use of acupuncture for pain relief.Writing in the June issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS), Dr Shu-Ming Wang of University of California-Irvine and colleagues stated, "[C]linical trials support the efficacy of acupuncture in reducing postoperative nausea and vomiting and postoperative pain."But David Colquhoun, PhD, of University College London and Dr Steven P. Novella of Yale University School of Medicine take a different view, concluding, ""[T]he benefits of acupuncture are likely nonexistent, or at best are too small and too transient to be of any clinical significance."Both groups of authors evaluate the research literature on acupuncture for management of three problems commonly seen anesthesia practice, for which current drug treatments aren`t completely effective: postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), postoperative pain , and chronic pain conditions.Acupuncture studies pose unique challenges, especially in terms of selecting inactive "placebo" comparison treatments.While acknowledging these difficulties, Dr Wang and coauthors note that many studies have reported benefits of acupuncture. In their view, the evidence is strongest for acupuncture`s effectiveness in preventing PONV. One recent research summary, including data on nearly 4,900 patients, concluded that treatment directed at one specific "acupoint" is as effective as conventional drug treatments in preventing PONV, with only minor side effects.
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