Oct. 5 (UPI) — Veterans who have acupuncture before surgery reported less need for opioids for pain, a pilot study presented Monday at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2020 meeting shows.
“Six percent of patients given opioids after surgery become dependent on them, and veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental overdoses than civilians,” said study lead author Dr. Brinda Krish,.
“Clearly it is crucial to have multiple options for treating pain, and acupuncture is an excellent alternative. It is safe, cost effective and it works,” said Krish, an anesthesiology resident at Detroit Medical Center.
Researchers analyzed two groups of patients treated at John D. VA Medical Center in Detroit. The study’s principal investigator, physician anesthesiologist Dr. Padmavathi Patel, provided the acupuncture.
The first group included 21 patients who had traditional acupuncture, which involves the insertion of very thin needles at specific trigger points around the body to relieve pain, and 21 patients who did not.
The second group included 28 patients who received battlefield acupuncture, which a U.S. Air Force doctor developed to reduce pain without use of opioids on the front lines, and 36 patients in control group.
In both acupuncture groups, veterans reported significant reduction in post-operative pain and post-operative opioid use compared to control patients undergoing surgery without acupuncture.
“Some patients were open to trying acupuncture right away, and others became more interested when they learned more about the risk of opioid use,” Krish said.
“It’s easy, patients love it, it’s not just another medicine and it’s very safe. Because battlefield acupuncture was developed by an armed services doctor, veterans also were more willing to participate.”