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Acupuncture Research Reveals Benefits for Patients Dealing with Chronic Illnesses

Acupuncture therapy across length of back

New Research on Acupuncture

As demands for holistic medicine increase from people seeking relief from a variety of conditions, more research is conducted to determine and affirm how effective these treatments can be. These studies are important both for validating the effectiveness of holistic medicine and quantifying how alternative treatments can be used. For example, acupuncture is often incorporated into a wellness plan relating to a variety of ailments and new research examines just how this practice affects patients with certain chronic illnesses.

3 Common Types of Acupuncture

Originating from traditional Chinese medicine practices, acupuncture entails inserting thin needles, through a patient’s skin, at strategic points along the body at various depths, which interrupts pain signals throughout the body and thus delivers relief. There are several types of common acupuncture treatments, including:

01 Cupping Acupuncture: Involves utilizing special suction cups on the patient’s skin to stimulate blood flow under the cup, which provides relief for a wide array of symptoms ranging from muscle inflammation to arthritis. While cupping alone doesn’t actually involve the use of needles, it’s often used in tandem with needles to deliver deep relief.

02 Scalp Acupuncture: This particular form of acupuncture is self-explanatory in that it involves specifically placing needles along the patient’s scalp at certain points and has been known to manage spinal and motor-impairment issues.

03 Body Acupuncture: Entails – you guessed it – placing needles all along a patient’s body to supply relief in an all-over manner that can be used to treat a plethora of conditions as well as deliver stress relief.

Acupuncture as a Drug-Free Alternative

Acupuncture can be a viable alternative to opioid products. While almost two-thirds of Americans have been prescribed an opioid for pain issues, 49% reported knowing someone who has been addicted to prescription opioids; in other words, opioids are not to be taken lightly. “What’s a healthy and effective alternative? Acupuncture. One meta-analysis of almost 18,000 patients across 29 randomized controlled trials found that licensed, precise acupuncture treatments were significantly more effective than the absence of the holistic approach. Acupuncture is a great alternative to such traditional, pharmacological methods of treatment because it’s minimally invasive and doesn’t have any damaging side effects.”

As mentioned earlier in this article, acupuncture treatments are becoming complementary – if not primary – approaches to treating chronic or acute pain. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), several studies have found that such holistic treatments were proven to reduce pain for a variety of conditions and even manage constant pain such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain.

Furthermore, in 2017, the American College of Physicians issued recommendations for treating patients who live with enduring lower back pain, including acupuncture as an effective drug-free treatment plan. As providers reduce prescribing opioid drugs to manage pain, patients are directed to therapies like acupuncture as a holistic alternative that maintains an effective pain management quality.

One meta-analysis of almost 18,000 patients across 29 randomized controlled trials found that licensed, precise acupuncture treatments were significantly more effective than the absence of the holistic approach.

While the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes that acupuncture treatments have been proven to help treat lower back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, knee pain, and chronic migraines, the Acupuncture Evidence Project reviewed the effectiveness of acupuncture for 122 treatments over 14 clinical areas and have found some evidence of effect for 117 conditions. These include:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Chemotherapy side effects
  • Morning sickness due to pregnancy
  • Facial pain
  • Dental pain

Acupuncture's Effect on Specific Illnesses

It’s important to conduct research on holistic treatments like acupuncture in order to objectively determine how effective it can be on certain chronic illnesses. Check out these recent studies on a variety of chronic illnesses in relation to acupuncture treatments:

Meniere’s Disease: Researchers recently conducted a study on 30 patients regarding the effects of acupuncture in treating Meniere’s Disease. Results demonstrated that Meniere’s symptoms, including dizziness, tinnitus, and hearing loss, were significantly reduced in all patients with the use of the warm-promotion needling method wherein acupuncturists manipulated needles in a methodical technique to induce desired effects.

Gout: From a sample size of 120 patients, researchers found that combined auricular acupuncture—treatments performed on the patient’s ears—with warm needle acupuncture significantly enhances the efficacy of drug therapy in relieving gout pain, boosting the 82 percent effective rate to 95 percent effective.

TMJ Pain: Research conducted on 60 patients determined that warm needle acupuncture was 93.3 percent effective while standard manual acupuncture was 86.7 percent effective in reducing pain associated with TMJ.

COPD: Acupuncture was proven an effective treatment for patients living with COPD after a study of 62 patients determined this holistic plan reduces small airway obstructions, increases breathing volume, ventilation, overall respiratory function, and exercise tolerance.

Stroke: In a recent study of 60 patients, traditional treatments for stroke patients were found to be more effective in conjunction with acupuncture treatments than without them because acupuncture “increases the thrombolytic effect of urokinase for the treatment of acute cerebral infarction.”

Educating Prospective Patients on Acupuncture

In 2019, the US National Health Council approximated that 133 million Americans were dealing with a “generally incurable and ongoing” chronic illness; of this group, about 40 million were “limited in their usual activities due to one or more chronic health conditions.” Imagine how many individuals in your community are part of these statistics and could benefit from treatment at your holistic practice!

But first, your patients have to have an awareness of your practice and how it can specifically benefit their overall health. That’s why keeping up on recent studies pertaining to acupuncture’s effectiveness on chronic illnesses can be a vital tool in connecting you with your community and speaking directly to prospective patients.

You can spend more time, energy, and resources on staying current on research, educating your community, and ultimately treating patients by taking one easy step: partner with a medical billing firm to manage your revenue cycle!