41 patients undergoing primary total knee replacement at the Hospital for Special Surgery still had access to opioids, with the addition of electroacupuncture - small electric current to thin needles that are inserted - at eight specific points in the ear, And the majority of patients said acupuncture in their ear led to less opiod use. Sixty-five percent of patients maintained a low-dose opioid regimen of 15 oxycodone pills or less (57.5%) or remained completely opioid-free (7.5%) from induction of anesthesia to 30 days after surgery. Historically, only 9% of patients outside of the study maintained a low-dose or opioid-free regimen post-surgery. All patients studied discontinued opioid use after 30 days following surgery.
Due to concerns about recreational opioid use that sometimes occurs after pain medication for surgery is gone, the authors believe that ow-dose perioperative opioid consumption, replaced with placeboes like acupuncture, can reduce the risk of long-term opioid use in patients. Acupuncture is popular in Asian countries and among alternative medicine believers in western countries and Stephanie Cheng, M.D., DABMA, lead author of the study, said about their work presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2021 annual meeting; “Additional research is needed to further define acupuncture’s effects and encourage its use in all aspects of disease treatment.”
Acupuncture has never been found effective in double-blind clinical trials, the standard to be considered a valid medical treatment, but if acupuncture, hypnosis, or prayer works and you are worried that taking medication will cause you to become addicted, it may be worth a try.