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Research Finds Acupuncture Effective for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a significant and common complaint in the US. Research shows that both patients and providers are often dissatisfied with conventional treatment processes and outcomes. A meta-analysis of chronic pain patients, published in the Journal of Pain, concluded that:

  • Acupuncture is effective for a number of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain.

  • Acupuncture treatment results are persistent over time, offering lasting benefits.

  • Benefits could not be explained solely in terms of placebo effects.

  • Referrals for a course of acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for a patient with chronic pain.

Additional Resources

  • Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Evidence-Based Evaluation of Complementary Health Approaches for Pain Management in the United States (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

  • BMJ: Should Doctors Recommend Acupuncture for Pain? (www.bmj.com)


Upshur, C. C., Luckmann, R. S., & Savageau, J. A. (2006). Primary care provider concerns about management of chronic pain in community clinic populations. Journal of general internal medicine, 21(6), 652–655. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00412.x

Vickers, A. J., Vertosick, E. A., Lewith, G., Macpherson, H., Foster, N. E., Sherman, K. J., Linde, K. (2018). Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Pain, 19(5), 455–474. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.005


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