Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth

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bluegray (February 25, 2009, 13:13:39 PM):
Her reply was that "amongst others, the nett effect of the needle entering the muscle increases blood flow (and healing) to that area".
Mmm, much like a bruised knee will increase blood flow and healing in that area. ;)

The other day I donated some blood. The needle they draw the blood with is quite big, but as far as I could see only pierced the skin and the vein. Didn't come near the muscle. My arm is still a bit sore from that. Can't imagine that a needle inserted into the muscle will feel any better. But it might distract from the first pain...
A smaller needle will obviously do less damage. What sort of needle did she use on you Spike?
Spike (February 25, 2009, 22:06:19 PM):
Shall I get the correct name? These are incredibly thin, long needles - if done correctly, you don't really feel the needle entering the skin or muscle, but there is an immediate sensation which I cannot describe exactly. It just feels as if there's somethin' happenin'. That sensation fades quickly, to be replaced (in my case) with a deeply relaxed feeling. The needles are left in the muscle(s) for only a few minutes - by which time I am practically asleep.

In my experience, there is no proof that needling contributes to healing. At most, the general relaxation contributes to a general lowering in muscle tension in and around the knotty problem, which could be interpreted as successful treatment, but it is neither lasting, nor has it resolved the problem (in my case, a neglected whiplash injury).
GCoe (July 01, 2010, 12:50:17 PM):
Quote
Shall I get the correct name? These are incredibly thin, long needles - if done correctly, you don't really feel the needle entering the skin or muscle, but there is an immediate sensation which I cannot describe exactly. It just feels as if there's somethin' happenin'. That sensation fades quickly, to be replaced (in my case) with a deeply relaxed feeling. The needles are left in the muscle(s) for only a few minutes - by which time I am practically asleep.

In my experience, there is no proof that needling contributes to healing. At most, the general relaxation contributes to a general lowering in muscle tension in and around the knotty problem, which could be interpreted as successful treatment, but it is neither lasting, nor has it resolved the problem (in my case, a neglected whiplash injury).

This is a good description that a lot of people experience: a dramatic experience of change at the beginning but no lasting effect. I would interpret that as a very run of the mill placebo effect
Brian (July 01, 2010, 16:35:51 PM):
I'm no doctor, but would the placebo effect not be neutralised in an experiment when you do the acupuncture under anasthaetic and then test the effect (if any) and compare that with a control group? I've had this done to me many times and can't say it ever helped to alleviate pain.
BoogieMonster (July 01, 2010, 17:10:47 PM):
I remember seeing this a while back, about it triggering a natural pain killer (much like munching chilli), however it seems clear that placebo is not ruled out, since "sham" needles that do not enter the skin are just as effective...

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/05/31/0125223/Acupuncture-May-Trigger-a-Natural-Painkiller?from=rss

Many worthwhile links at the actual slashdot page, but here's the brief:
Quote
USNWR is reporting that the needle pricks involved in acupuncture may help relieve pain by triggering the natural painkilling chemical adenosine. There are also indications that acupuncture's effectiveness can be enhanced by coupling the process with a well-known cancer drug — deoxycoformycin — that maintains adenosine levels longer than usual. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center and her colleagues administered half-hour acupuncture treatments to a group of mice with paw discomfort. The investigators found adenosine levels in tissue near the needle insertion points was 24 times greater after treatment, and those mice with normal adenosine function experienced a two-thirds drop in paw pain. By contrast, mice that were genetically engineered to have no adenosine function gained no benefit from the treatment." Read below for some acupuncture skepticism engendered by other recent studies.

However, many remain skeptical of acupuncture claims. Ed Tong writes in Discover Magazine that previous clinical trials have used sophisticated methods to measure the benefits of acupuncture, including 'sham needles' (where the needle's point retracts back into the shaft like the blade of a movie knife) to determine if the benefits of acupuncture are really only due to the placebo effect. 'Last year, one such trial (which was widely misreported) found that acupuncture does help to relieve chronic back pain and outperformed "usual care". However, it didn't matter whether the needles actually pierce the skin [paper here with annoying interstitial], because sham needles were just as effective,' writes Tong. 'Nor did it matter where the needles were placed, contrary to what acupuncturists would have us believe.'"

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