Acupuncture Clinical Pain Trial in a Military Medical Center: Outcomes

To cite this paper:
Richard C. Niemtzow, Stephen M. Burns, Jared Cooper, Salvatore Libretto, Joan A.G. Walter, John Baxter. Medical Acupuncture. December 2008, 20(4): 255-261. doi:10.1089/acu.2008.0594.

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Richard C. Niemtzow, MD
Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews AFB, MD.
Stephen M. Burns, MD
Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews AFB, MD.
Jared Cooper, MPH
Samueli Institute, Alexandria, VA.
Salvatore Libretto, PhD
Samueli Institute, Alexandria, VA.
Joan A.G. Walter, JD
Samueli Institute, Alexandria, VA.
John Baxter, MD
Pentagon Flight Medicine Clinic (779th MDG), Pentagon, Washington, DC.
ABSTRACT

Background: Acupuncture may play a significant role in the management of acute and chronic pain. A United States Air Force (USAF) acupuncture clinic managed pain for active duty members, dependents, and retirees. The majority of these patients had unsuccessful control of their pain when employing conventional medications and therapies.

Objective: To study the benefits of acupuncture to control acute and chronic pain in active duty military members, dependents, and retirees who were not successfully palliated with conventional Western care.

Design, Setting, and Subjects: Measurements of pain were made on adult male (n = 58) and female (n = 60) patients ranging in age from 21 to 85 at Malcolm Grow Medical Center (MGMC), Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, USA, from October 2003 to September 2005.

Intervention: Various acupuncture modalities were employed on patients with pain: acupuncture, electroacupuncture, auriculotherapy, and electroauriculotherapy. The choice of the acupuncture modality and the actual points used were based on the decision of the treating physicians, who were also trained medical acupuncturists.

Main Outcome Measures: We delineated anatomic areas of most frequent pain, pain scales before, during, and after therapy, pre- and post-treatment quality of life, and post-treatment patient satisfaction.

Results: Patients had significant improvement in pain control and a highly significant improvement in their scores on standardized Quality of Life scores at the end of the 4-week study.

Conclusions: Acupuncture appears to be helpful as adjunctive therapy for controlling acute and chronic pain in patients for whom standard care is not wholly effective. Possibly as a result of this intervention, patients demonstrated a highly significant improvement in both the mental (P < .01) and physical (P < .001) subscales of the SF-8 quality of life measure, 4 weeks following the first acupuncture treatment.