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"Acupuncture may ease pain, study says"

Vancouver Sun

Source: Vancouver Sun

Published: 29 Jun 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (2 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

NEW YORK - Acupuncture can bring some relief to people with knee arthritis, but the benefits may partly be from a placebo effect, a new research review suggests.
In an analysis of nine clinical trials from the past 15 years, researchers found that acupuncture seemed to lessen the pain and stiffness felt by knee- arthritis sufferers, in the short term. The patients had osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease associated with age, as opposed to arthritis associated with an autoimmune disorder.
However, a closer look showed that the benefits were limited to trials that compared acupuncture with doing nothing or with " usual care," such as antiinflammatory medication....

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 9
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Applicable

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This story hinges on whether placebo effect is an appropriate treatment effect that a caregiver may try to use in relieving a patients pain. The article, a review of studies of acupuncture says the review "suggests that the benefits of acupuncture for knee arthritis are partly due to patients' expectations."

What is so surprising, might be why this seems so surprising. Patient expectations play a key in any treatment modality, be it drugs, surgery or complimentary medicine. What this story needed to score better is any sense of the quantity of benefits and harms (if the treatment works, how much does it work, and if it causes any side effects, what are those?). We don't learn much about the costs or availability of the treatment, and if patients are considering acupuncture they should have some sense of how long the treatment might be, how much it might cost, and especially, whether it is covered by the provincial health plan. Any treatment, regardless of how effective it is, is less likely to be used unless it is prescribed by physicians, insured and covered. We don't learn anything on that front from this story.
There is no mention of study methodology assessment (i.e how were disease states, or changes in disease states, assessed? Who did the acupuncture? Were these well-trained practitioners? by what standards were they assessed or graded?

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