The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Men's Health Cites Acupuncture Study...Sort Of

I bought the most recent issue of Men's Health - the one with Lance Armstrong on the cover - and in it on page 28, there is a little blurb on acupuncture that says:
A new Brazilian study found that when people with chronic neck pain underwent weekly acupuncture and physical therapy sessions, they saw a 21 percent greater reduction in pain than people who received only the physical therapy. Acupuncture may ease the muscle spasms that contribute to neck pain.
No study citation, no link or journal was listed, just some study from Brazil. Ok, well, let's take a look, shall we?

Here's an acupuncture study from Brazil that looks at myofascial pain (myofascial refers to the thin, almost cellophane-like covering that is around muscles), but it's not "chronic neck pain". Plus in the above study, there's no sham acupuncture. Much like this study, also from Brazil. And ta daa! It shows positive results! Quelle surprise!

So maybe I just don't have the access to the journals and special medical secret handshakes and Matrix pills to get to the correct Brazilian study that decreases neck pain. Darny darn. I do think it'd be great if more people would realize that sham acupuncture is necessary in all studies that supposedly test "energy pathways" and "chi" and all that other (non-existent) mystical mumbo jumbo.

Pain is extremely placebo-responsive, and as such, you have to take your selected pool of study participants and divide them into at least three groups (double-blinded, of course): 1. actual acupuncture received, 2. sham acupuncture received, and 3. normal treatment received (muscle relaxants, physiotherapy/massage, etc...). I would include a fourth group as well, if possible, and that is the 4. no treatment at all group.

When you have these groups, you can then take the blinded doctor/statistics analyst and let them check out all the data to see which patients seemed to do the best. Once that's done, then you go back and see which groups they came from and determine your results.

Is that too much work? It sure was for the dude who dropped the piece into Men's Health.

4 Barbaric Yawps:

At 14/1/09 1:44 pm, Blogger Molls said...

I recently found out that my HMO offers acupuncture for free. I have terrible migraines and I've heard that acupuncture works to reduce them/the severity of them.

I'm going to give it a shot, for the reason you said. Pain is something that is placebo responsive.

Hopefully I can trick myself into thinking it works and maybe it will help.

At 30/1/09 10:29 am, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

That's the way acupuncture should be used, if it's to be used at all. You're aware that the modality is likely a placebo, but your ability to recognize that fact may not hinder your co-ability to convince yourself that it just might work.

I hope your headaches go away.

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At 30/3/13 8:20 am, Blogger mohammad ahad said...

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