Painkillers may be replaced in case of providing long term relief from pain to patients with severe pain, according to a study.
A trial in the emergency departments of four hospitals involving about 528 patients of acute low back pain, migraine or ankle sprains was conducted by the researchers from RMIT University in Australia.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine. It is a procedure in which in thin needles are inserted into the body. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine.
One of the three types of treatment- acupuncture alone, acupuncture plus pharmacotherapy (treatment using drugs) or pharmacotherepy alone was given randomly to the patients whose level of pain was identified four on a 10-point scale.
Researchers noted that one hour after treatment, less than 40 per cent of patients across all three groups felt any significant pain reduction, while more than 80 per cent continued to have a pain rating of at least four.
The vast majority found their treatment acceptable after a period of 48 hours. 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients said they would probably want to repeat their treatment as compared to 80.8 per cent in the combined group, and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy-only group, researchers said.
"Our study has shown acupuncture is a viable alternative, and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs because of other medical conditions," said Marc Cohen, professor at RMIT University.
While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments, researchers said.
"We need to determine the conditions that are most responsive to acupuncture, the feasibility of including the treatment in emergency settings, and the training needed for doctors or allied health personnel," Cohen said.
The study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.