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An audit of the effectiveness of acupuncture on musculoskeletal pain in primary health care
  1. Elisa Kam, medical house officer1,
  2. Guy Eslick, clinical epidemiologist2,
  3. Ian Campbell, general practitioner3
  1. 1
    Ipswich, Suffolk
  2. 2
    University of Sydney, Penrith, Australia
  3. 3
    King’s Lynn, Norfolk
  1. eslickg{at}med.usyd.edu.au

Summary

Little is known about the use of acupuncture in general practice. We performed a retrospective review of the use of acupuncture in relieving musculoskeletal pain, a condition that is commonly encountered in general practice. A sample of 116 patient records was reviewed, from which 92 patients (mean age 52 years; 64% female) met the inclusion criterion of musculoskeletal pain. Information obtained included age, sex, diagnosis, duration of the problem, length of treatment (weeks), number of treatments, duration of each treatment (minutes), number of needles used, level of benefit obtained from the treatment, and recurrence of pain. There were many different conditions encountered.

We found an association between the general practitioner using fewer needles and patients experiencing greater pain relief. This could be a reflection of treating myofascial pain syndromes, which often appear to respond well to a single needle in the key trigger point. Overall, we found that sixty-nine percent of patients had a good or excellent response to acupuncture treatment. We recommend acupuncture as a treatment option for patients who do not respond to the usual therapies (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for musculoskeletal conditions.

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