Acupuncture for analgesia in the emergency department

This study looked at acupuncture, alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy, to patients presenting to emergency departments with acute low back pain, migraine, or ankle sprain (1) . A pragmatic, multicentre, randomised, assessor-blinded, equivalence and non-inferiority trial of analgesia was conducted. The primary outcome measures were pain at one hour, using a validated scale. The results showed that equivalence and non-inferiority of treatment groups was found overall and for the low back pain and ankle sprain groups in both intention-to-treat and per protocol analyses15.6% of patients had clinically relevant pain relief and 36.9% had statistically relevant pain relief at 1 hour. The authors conclude that the effectiveness of acupuncture in providing acute analgesia for patients with back pain and ankle sprain was comparable with that of pharmacotherapy. Acupuncture is a safe and acceptable form of analgesia, but none of the examined therapies provided optimal acute analgesia.
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