Acupuncture Viable for Pain Relief After Joint Replacement

Short-term pain reduction with adjunct acupuncture offered after hip, knee replacement

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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture is a feasible adjunct therapy for short-term postsurgical pain management in total joint replacement, according to a study published online Jan. 13 in Pain Medicine.

Daniel J. Crespin, M.S.P.H., from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the role of acupuncture as an adjunct for postsurgical pain management in total joint replacement. A cohort of 2,500 admissions for total hip and knee replacement were offered elective postsurgical acupuncture, at no additional cost, as an adjunct to opioids for pain management. Three-quarters of the admissions included acupuncture.

The researchers found that the odds of receiving acupuncture were higher for women versus men (odds ratio, 1.48) and lower for nonwhite patients versus white patients (odds ratio, 0.55). There was a 1.91-point average short-term pain reduction, representing a 45 percent reduction from the mean pre-pain score. Moderate/severe pain was reported by 41 percent of patients prior to receiving acupuncture and by 15 percent after acupuncture.

"Acupuncture may be a viable adjunct to pharmacological approaches for pain management after total hip replacement or total knee replacement," the authors write.

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