New research being conducted by Melbourne hospitals has found that acupuncture is as effective as medication in the treatment of lower back pain, migraines and acute ankle injuries.
In the randomised controlled trial, participants who went to the Emergency Departments with these ailments were randomised to receive either a) acupuncture alone, b) pharmacotherapy alone (medication including Endone, Panadeine Forte, Voltaren and Valium) or c) a combination of acupuncture + pharmacotherapy.
According the an interview with one of the lead researchers published in The Age, the results suggest that acupuncture is a safe and effective in improving pain management; after one hour of treatment, the level of pain relief was the same for each of the three groups. Also, those patients who had acupuncture tended to have a shorter stay in hospital. These findings may be helpful for patients who do not want to take medications (e.g., pregnant), or would like alternative pain management choices. The results also help inform the impact that acupuncture treatment may have upon health resource utilisation in Emergency Departments.
The final results are still being prepared for publication, but you can view the study protocol for the trial by clicking here.
Acupuncture & Dry Needling
Acupuncture is based on an Eastern conception of how the body, health and disease works, where energy, or 'qi', flows along channels called meridians. Imbalances in this energy flow are thought to cause 'dis-ease'. Traditional acupuncture involves the placement of needles into acupuncture points (or 'acu-points'), which are specific points along these meridians that help to balance this flow, and hence restore health.
Dry needling is a specific form of acupuncture in which the needles are inserted into 'trigger points', which are dysfunctional areas of muscle, which form discrete, tender nodules or bands which a skilled therapist can identify using their sense of touch, or palpation (and the fact that when they touch them, you say 'ow'!!). Dry needling helps to resolve these trigger points, which are so-called because they often 'trigger' pain or sensations in other parts of the body.
Dry needling has been shown to be effective in the treatment of myofascial (muscle and connective tissue) pain and acute injuries.
The Wikipedia page on trigger points is not bad, if you want some more information.
Speak with your osteopath if you think this may be relevant to your condition...