A study carried out in a Tunisian hospital emergency department has found that, compared with morphine, acupuncture was associated with faster, more effective analgesia and was better tolerated. Clinicians allocated 300 patients with acute moderate to severe pain to either acupuncture or intravenous morphine. The acupuncture protocol allowed acupuncture points to be selected from a pool of predetermined points for each condition, and included the use of ashi points, thus providing sufficient standardisation to assist replication, while being flexible enough to allow for individualised treatments. The success rate (defined as a drop in pain intensity of at least 50% from baseline) was significantly different between the two groups (92% in the acupuncture group versus 78% in the morphine group). Pain resolution time was 16 minutes in the acupuncture group, compared with 28 minutes in the morphine group. Adverse effects were also significantly fewer in the acupuncture group.
Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED. Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Jul 20. pii: S0735-6757(16)30422-3.