Saturday, September 18, 2010

Acupuncture Best for Which Rheumatic Disorders?

Briefly Noted There has been a great deal of research on acupuncture for pain relief, including systematic reviews of its effectiveness for rheumatic conditions. A critical review-of-reviews encompassing 13 different painful rheumatic disorders found that acupuncture is a viable treatment alternative for only a few of them.

Investigators conducted electronic searches of 15 databases to locate all systematic reviews of acupuncture studies for rheumatic conditions published since year 2000. They found 30 valid reviews for inclusion relating to the following disorders: fibromyalgia, low back pain, lateral elbow pain, orthopedic diseases, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, neck disorder, ankylosing spondylitis (ie, arthritis of the spine), and sciatica.

In several cases, conclusions of the various reviews were contradictory. However, the authors believe that relatively clear evidence emerged to suggest that acupuncture is effective for OA, low back pain, and lateral elbow pain, and it is largely ineffective for fibromyalgia and RA.

REFERENCE: Ernst E, Lee MS. Acupuncture for rheumatic conditions: an overview of systematic reviews. Rheumatology. 2010;49(10):1957-1961 [abstract here].