Acupuncture Beats Injected Morphine for Pain
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Acupuncture Beats Injected Morphine for Pain

Acupuncture Beats Injected Morphine for Pain: Groundbreaking Study

Posted on: Saturday, August 6th 2016 at 11:00 am
Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2016

An amazing new study has found that acupuncture, the ancient practice of using needles to stimulate bodily self healing, is more effective than intravenous morphine for pain. A truly groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine titled, “Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED,” reveals that acupuncture -- one of the oldest techniques to treat pain -- is more effective, faster in relieving pain, and with less adverse effects, than intravenous morphine.

The study was conducted over the course of a 1-year period at the Fattouma Bourguiba University Hospital in Tunisia, a tertiary care facility with over 100,000 Emergency Department (ED) visits per year.300 ED patients with acute pain were included in the study: 150 in the morphine group (administered up to 15 mg a day) and 150 in the acupuncture group. 

The two groups were comparable in terms of age, sex, and co-morbidities, with the only significant difference being that there were more abdominal pain patients in the morphine group and more low back pain cases in the acupuncture group.The striking results were reported as follows:

Success rate was significantly different between the 2 groups (92% in the acupuncture group vs 78% in the morphine group P b .01). Resolution time was 16 ± 8 minutes in the acupuncture group vs 28 ± 14 minutes in the morphine group. The difference was statistically significant (P b .01). The mean absolute difference in pain score between the 2 groups was 7.7. This difference is not clinically significant because the minimal clinically significant absolute difference reported by Todd et al is 13. In morphine group, the mean total dose of morphine administered was 0.17 ± 0.08 mg/Kg (Table 2).

The pain scale change from baseline at each time point in the 2 groups is shown in Figure. From the 5-minute time point, the acupuncture group reported significantly larger pain decrease compared with the morphine group. This difference persisted during the entire study period. Change of blood pressure, HR, RR, and oxygen saturation was not significant in both groups.

Overall, 89 patients (29.3%) experienced minor adverse effects: 85(56.6%) in morphine group and 4 (2.6%) in acupuncture group; the difference was significant between the 2 groups (Table 3). The most frequent adverse effect was dizziness in the morphine group (42%) and needle breakage in the acupuncture group (2%). No major adverse effect was recorded during the study protocol. (See Table 4.)”

In short, the acupuncture group saw a great pain-relieving effect, which occurred faster, with significantly less side effects.
A graph from the study showing the pain-decreasing differences between morphine and acupuncture


Discussion: Since 1996, the World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as a safe and effective therapy for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, including pain and discomfort. Despite this, the use of acupuncture within the conventional standard of care is still exceedingly rare. A deep skepticism exists for therapeutic modalities that do yet have a clearly characterized mechanism of action, as defined through conventional biomedical understanding and terminology. Often, in lieu of this, its therapeutic effects are written off as merely “placebo.”

 © [August 6th, 2016] GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. 

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