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Papers: 19 Oct 2019 - 25 Oct 2019


2019 Nov - Dec

Explore (NY)



Cochrane reviews on acupuncture therapy for pain: A snapshot of the current evidence.


Nielsen A, Wieland SL
Explore (NY). 2019 Nov - Dec; 15(6):434-439.
PMID: 31636020.


Cochrane is an international non-profit organization established in 1993 to produce and disseminate high quality and unbiased systematic reviews of evidence on health care interventions. At the forefront of systematic review methodology, Cochrane is generally accepted to be among the most carefully prepared and rigorous sources of systematic review evidence. There are numerous Cochrane reviews on nonpharmacologic interventions for pain and multiple Cochrane reviews evaluating acupuncture therapy in pain conditions. But how complete and up to date are those reviews relative to other rigorous systematic reviews with meta-analyses of acupuncture therapy for pain published in the literature? In this 'snapshot' overview, we found 22 relevant Cochrane reviews, some concluding that acupuncture therapy is probably useful for treating specific pain conditions. However, many of the conditions for which acupuncture is most commonly used are either not represented in Cochrane reviews or the existing Cochrane reviews are seriously outdated and do not reflect current evidence. This creates confusion with the risks of adverse effects and addiction liability associated with pain medications, the prevalence of chronic pain, the ongoing opioid epidemic and the need for evidence-based options for pain as part of comprehensive pain care. Clinicians and patients want clarification on safe and effective options to treat pain. Issues involving reviewed trials' inadequate use of sham comparators, of acupuncture as a complex intervention with interactive components and a shift in research focus from efficacy trials to real-world pragmatic trials are discussed in relation to updating Cochrane reviews of acupuncture therapy for pain.