Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain.

Chronic pain imposes a substantial burden on individuals and society which is as great as other more publicised health priorities such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Studies have found that as many as 1 in 5 adults are affected by chronic pain which persists for more than 6 months. Due to limited conventional medical care options beyond symptomatic pain relief, one third of those who live with chronic pain conditions may not be seeking and receiving treatment at all.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for chronic pain.

Consult with our practitioners for personalised care and advice.

Although well-conducted clinical research can help members of the public to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare, we do not make any claims that any particular treatment may be efficacious for any individual person.

When you consult with our Chinese medicine practitioners, you'll receive personalised advice and treatment based on your symptoms and Chinese medicine diagnosis.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific clinical research on acupuncture for chronic pain.

It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

2021, Jan 28

Acupuncture treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy: An overview of systematic reviews
Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Acupuncture appears to have an effect on DPN, effectively improving nerve conduction and clinical symptoms. Although the methodological quality of the included studies was generally very low and defects were frequent, our study highlights areas where improvement in methodology is required. There is a need for further study of the pathogenesis of DPN, and for developing a unified standard for methods of acupuncture treatment, acupoint selection, and adverse reactions reporting. Traditional Chinese medical practices such as acupuncture should adopt an evidence-based approach to provide greater confidence in their use.

Yu B, Li M, Huang H, Ma S, Huang K, Zhong Z, Yu S, Zhang L. Full Article

Pain Research and Management

2020, Dec 14

Evaluation of the Therapeutic Effect of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Pain Research and Management

TCM therapy in treatment of patients with OA could effectively restore joint function, enhance the TER, and reduce RR. However, the results of this study should be handled with care due to the limitations existing. Some rigorous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are needed to confirm these findings.

Wang L, Zhang XF, Zhang X, Guo DY, Duan YW, Wang ZC, Pei LS, Ru H, Cheng JX, Shi YJ, Zou JB Full Article

Current Rheumatology Reports

2020, Sep 25

Acupuncture and Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
Current Rheumatology Reports

The available evidence suggests that acupuncture does have short-term pain relief benefits for patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain and is a safe and reasonable referral option. Acupuncture may also have a beneficial role for fibromyalgia.

Zhang YJ, Wang C Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2020, Jun 25

Effect of Acupuncture on Chronic Pain with Depression: A Systematic Review
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture has a promising application prospect due to its unique advantages for the treatment of chronic pain with depression comorbidity, which can be used in patients suffering from some certain chronic pain with depression comorbidity with poorer response to the conventional medication or suffering from serious side effects. High-quality RCTs are needed to support the current clinical application of acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain with depression comorbidity and to broaden the clinical application.

Yan B, Zhu S, Wang Y, Da G, Tian G Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2020, Jun 27

Effects of Acupuncture on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Our systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that acupuncture had very-small-to-small and small-to-moderate effects on pain relief for DOMS when compared with sham and no acupuncture.

Chang WD, Chang NJ, Lin HY, Wu JH Full Article

The Clinical Journal of Pain

2020, Feb 05

Acupuncture Versus Sham Acupuncture
The Clinical Journal of Pain

A significant difference in therapy effect, favoring acupuncture, was found for pain at <1 month, 1 to 3 months, and 3 to 6 months, as well as on quality of life at <1 month, and on functionality at <1 month and 1 to 3 months.

Lenoir D, De Pauw R, Van Oosterwijck S, Cagnie B, Meeus M Full Article

Acupuncture in Medicine

2019, Feb 22

Acupuncture for the treatment of lower limb diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a systematic review
Acupuncture in Medicine British Medical Acupuncture Society

Acupuncture for DPN appears to improve symptoms. However, the application of acupuncture varies greatly, and the quality of included studies was generally low. Available studies have varying methodologies and different outcome measures. Further, suitably powered studies using appropriate DPN outcome measures are required.

Nash J, Armour M, Penkala S Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2019, Jan 4

Classic Chinese Acupuncture versus Different Types of Control Groups for the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Review of Randomized Controlled Trials (2000-2018)
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Sixty-one studies were fully analyzed and ranked based on the newest STRICTA and CBNG standards. We found good evidence that receiving acupuncture is better than not receiving treatment or being placed on a waiting list and reasonable evidence that it is better than conventional or usual care.

Yan-Jiao Chen, Gabriel Shimizu Bassi, Yong-Qing Yang Full Article

Pain Medicine

2018, Jan 13

Randomized Controlled Trial of Acupuncture for Women with Fibromyalgia: Group Acupuncture with Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis-Based Point Selection
Pain Medicine American Academy of Pain Medicine

Compared with education, group acupuncture improved global symptom impact, pain, and fatigue. Furthermore, it was a safe and well-tolerated treatment option, improving a broader proportion of patients than current pharmaceutical options.

Scott D Mist, Kim Dupree Jones Full Article

The Journal of Pain

2017, Nov 30

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis
The Journal of Pain American Pain Society

Acupuncture has a clinically relevant effect on chronic pain that persists over time. The effect of acupuncture cannot be explained only by placebo effects. Factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors. Referral for acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for chronic pain patients.

Vickers, Andrew J. et al. Full Article

Pain Physician

2017, Sep 20

Acupuncture for Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Network Meta-Analysis of 33 Randomized Controlled Trials
Pain Physician American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians

Scraping combined with warming acupuncture and moxibustion was found to be effective for decreasing pain intensity. Existing evidence suggests that most acupuncture therapies are effective in decreasing pain and in improving physical function.

Li X, Wang R, Xing X, Shi X, Tian J, Zhang J, Ge L, Zhang J, Li L, Yang K. Full Article

Chinese Medicine

2017, Jul 24

Cupping therapy versus acupuncture for pain-related conditions: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and trial sequential analysis
Chinese Medicine International Society for Chinese Medicine

Cupping therapy and acupuncture are potentially safe, and they have similar effectiveness in relieving pain. However, further rigorous studies investigating relevant pain-related conditions are warranted to establish comparative effectiveness analysis between these two therapies. Cost-effectiveness studies should be considered in the future studies to establish evidence for decision-making in clinical practice.

Zhang, YJ., Cao, HJ., Li, XL. et al. Full Article


2017, May

The persistence of the effects of acupuncture after a course of treatment: a meta-analysis of patients with chronic pain
Pain International Association for the Study of Pain

The effects of a course of acupuncture treatment for patients with chronic pain do not seem to decrease importantly over 12 months. Patients can generally be reassured that treatment effects persist. Studies of the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture should take our findings into account when considering the time horizon of acupuncture effects. Further research should measure longer term outcomes of acupuncture.

MacPherson, H; Vertosick, E.A; Foster, N.E; Lewith, G; Linde, K; Sherman, K.J; Witt, C.M; Vickers, A.J Full Article

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

2017, Mar 1

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Society for Acupuncture Research

Acupuncture is beneficial in some peripheral neuropathies, but more rigorously designed studies using sham-acupuncture control are needed to characterize its effect and optimal use better.

Alexandra Dimitrova, Charles Murchison, and Barry Oken. Full Article

Programme Grants for Applied Research

2017, Jan

Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research
Programme Grants for Applied Research NHS National Institutes for Health Research

We have provided the most robust evidence from high-quality trials on acupuncture for chronic pain. The synthesis of high-quality IPD found that acupuncture was more effective than both usual care and sham acupuncture. Acupuncture is one of the more clinically effective physical therapies for osteoarthritis and is also cost-effective if only high-quality trials are analysed.

MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, et al. Full Article

Scientific Reports

2016, Jul 29

Acupuncture for musculoskeletal pain: A meta-analysis and meta-regression of sham-controlled randomized clinical trials
Scientific Reports

Our review provided low-quality evidence that acupuncture has a moderate effect (approximately a 12-point pain reduction on the VAS 100 mm) on relieving pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Acupuncture was more effective than SA at relieving pain caused by chronic NP (high-level evidence), SP (high), chronic LBP (moderate), MP (moderate), and OA (low). There was no difference between groups for FM (moderate). There was not enough evidence for AP, RA, acute NP, and acute LBP. The type of SA used did not seem to be related to the estimated effect of real acupuncture.

Yuan QL, Wang P, Liu L, et al. Full Article


2016, Mar 9

The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Post-Operative Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
PLOS One Public Library of Science

Our findings indicate that certain modes of acupuncture improved postoperative pain on the first day after surgery and reduced opioid use. Our findings support the use of acupuncture as adjuvant therapy in treating postoperative pain.

Wu M-S, Chen K-H, Chen I-F, Huang SK, Tzeng P-C, Yeh M-L, et al. Full Article


2015, May 8

Effects of Acupuncture on Neuropathic Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Neurology American Academy of Neurology

The majority of trials demonstrate a positive effect of acupuncture over control condition in the treatment of neuropathy. Further more rigorously designed studies are needed to better characterize this effect.

Alexandra Dimitrova, Charles Murchison, Barry Oken Full Article

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2013, May 31

Acupuncture for treating fibromyalgia
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

There is low to moderate-level evidence that compared with no treatment and standard therapy, acupuncture improves pain and stiffness in people with fibromyalgia.

Deare JC, Zheng Z, Xue CC, Liu JP, Shang J, Scott SW, Littlejohn G. Full Article

Acupuncture points