Here’s the latest evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture. A review of more than two dozen studies gives it a thumbs-up for helping relieve pain from chronic headaches, backaches and arthritis. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether you get a placebo or the real thing.
Scientists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and several universities in England and Germany examined 29 studies involving 18,000 adults. They concluded that the needle remedy worked better than usual pain treatment and slightly better than fake acupuncture.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting long, very thin needles just beneath the skin’s surface at specific points on the body to control pain or stress. Fake acupuncture studied in research sometimes also uses needles, but on different areas of the body.
Scientists aren’t sure what biological mechanism could explain how acupuncture might relieve pain, but the study authors say the results suggest there’s more involved than just a placebo effect.
Bottom line, they say the results provide the best evidence to date that acupuncture is a good option for a range of conditions and uncertainty over how it works shouldn’t stop doctors from offering it to patients struggling with pain,