Background Clinical trials in acupuncture are published in a variety of journals, and it is useful to summarise them in one place.
Methods We conducted a search of PubMed and Embase for clinical trials of acupuncture with date of entry 2005, and selected randomised controlled trials with clinical outcomes for review. Where possible, the original report was read for full details.
Results Thirty-eight RCTs were found from databases, and one more during the process of the study. Ten of the trials included about 100 patients or more. Five showed acupuncture to be superior to usual care in back pain, knee pain and headache. Acupuncture was superior to placebo for chronic knee pain, but not for fibromyalgia, or post-stroke rehabilitation. Acupuncture was not as good as conventional analgesia for oocyte collection.
Conclusion The role of acupuncture is becoming more precisely established in treatment of chronic knee pain, back pain and headache. Acupuncture for chronic back pain is more cost-effective than many other medical interventions.
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