Acupuncture for Analgesia in the Emergency Department – A Literature Review
This paper was my Doctoral thesis – The abstract is below. Acupuncture analgesia Emergency Department. Here is the link to the paper in PDF format .
Pain is a common complaint in the Emergency Department (ED). Its management relies heavily on pharmacologic treatment. However, evidence suggests that nonpharmacologic interventions may be beneficial. Our objective is to test the hypothesis that acupuncture analgesia (AA) can be an effective modality in the ED. At least equivalent to standard ED care such as pharmacological care such as opioids or Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). If AA is equivalent to standard ED care can its use also lead to lower ED pharmacological analgesic use?
We conducted a review of the literature on all types of AA interventions in the ED with pain reduction as an objective. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria for summary analysis. The type of pain most studied varied from sore throat to low back pain and acute non-penetrating injuries to the extremities. Most studies reported at least one improved outcome after acupuncture treatment. Of these, the majority reported significantly reduced pain compared to the control group when available but failed to demonstrate an impact on medication use. Most studies showed a high level of heterogeneity and bias. Further research is necessary to establish acupuncture as an evidence-based analgesia modality in the ED that is at least equivalent to standard ED pharmacological care.
Acupuncture analgesia Emergency Department interventions may be effective for analgesia in the ED and particularly auricular acupuncture would seem to fit in the hectic environment of the ED. However more adequately and rigorously designed blinded Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) are necessary to further investigate and validate those claims. Research methods need to be standardized regarding pain measurement, acupuncture protocols and methodology as studying AA in the ED is in its infancy. Methods also need to take into account demographic and operating environments worldwide. Finally, analgesic medication usage needs to be measured to evaluate the impact of acupuncture on opioid and NSAID use in the ED. This would determine the public health impact of offering AA in the ED.