Previous research was unclear whether acupuncture helps chronic pain. Two new analyses have reviewed new studies demonstrating that acupuncture does indeed relieve chronic pain in many. It may also help with opiate addiction. I’ve prescribed acupuncture for decades and find that roughly a third to half of my patients find real relief. And the relief can last for weeks. One caveat: it’s less effective if you’re taking opiates. But then there’s increasing suspicion opiates may not help chronic pain at all.
The first review is in the Journal of Pain: Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. The second article is a white paper from several acupuncture societies. It’s in the Journal of Integrative Medicine and has a really long title: Acupuncture’s Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management—White Paper 2017.
One issue is finding a good acupuncture therapist. But there are plenty of them out there. More problematic is getting insurance to cover your treatment. Medicare doesn’t cover acupuncture at all. Treatments run roughly $50 to $100 per session, and it usually takes five treatments just to find out if it will help you.