"The United States is facing a national opioid epidemic, and medical systems are in need of non-pharmacological strategies that can be employed to decrease the public’s opioid dependence."
"Acupuncture is an effective, safe, and cost-effective treatment for numerous types of acute and chronic pain. Acupuncture should be recommended as a first line treatment for pain before opiates are prescribed, and may reduce opioid use."
In September 2017, the white paper, Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management, was published by The Joint Acupuncture Opioid Task Force, chaired by Bonnie Bolash, MAc.
This white paper is just 15 pages long and incredibly well-referenced (21 pages long when including references section). You can look at a copy on Evidenced-based Acupuncture's website.
This work was a collaboration of the following national and international organizations: The American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA), The American Alliance for Professional Acupuncture Safety (AAPAS), The Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF), The American TCM Association (ATCMA), The American TCM Society (ATCMS), and the National Federation of TCM Organizations (NFTCMO).
All the topics in the paper are supported by research in the endnotes/reference section.
I highlighted some topics with a related quote below. Check out the full paper here.
For anyone asking, how does acupuncture work? The paper states,
"mechanisms of action for acupuncture have been described and are understandable from biomedical, physiologic perspectives."
Is acupuncture cost-effective?
"...acupuncture’s cost-effectiveness could dramatically decrease health care expenditures, both from the standpoint of treating acute pain and through avoiding the development of opioid addiction that requires costly care, destroys quality of life, and can lead to fatal overdose."
Who recommends it?
"Acupuncture has been recommended as a first line non-pharmacologic therapy by the FDA, as well as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in coping with the opioid crisis. The Joint Commission has also mandated that hospitals provide non-pharmacologic pain treatment modalities." [section 4]
"Numerous federal regulatory agencies have advised or mandated that healthcare systems and providers offer non-pharmacological treatment options, and acupuncture stands as the most evidence-based, immediately available choice to fulfill these calls. Acupuncture can safely, easily, and cost-effectively be incorporated into hospital settings as diverse as the emergency department, labor and delivery suites, and neonatal intensive care units to treat a variety of pain seen commonly in hospitals."
Acupuncture and neuroplasticity
"Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain involving maladaptive neuroplasticity" and "acupuncture has the capacity to reverse adverse neuroplastic changes" [section 3]
Source: The September 2017 white paper, Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management
scientific journal citation:
Fan AY, Miller DW, Bolash B, Bauer M, Faggert S, He H, Li YM, Matecki A, Camardell L, Koppelman MH, Stone J, McDonald J, Meade L, Pang J. Acupuncture's Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence, Cost-Effectiveness, and Care Availability for Acupuncture as a Primary, Non-Pharmacologic Method for Pain Relief and Management --White Paper 2017. J Integr Med. 2017; 15(6): 411-425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60378-9
Simultaneously published in Meridians: Journal of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, winter 2018. www.meridiansjaom.com
- Calculating Morphine Equivalent Dose
- Medication Review: Discerning Side Effects of Opioid Medications
- 37 Attorney Generals Push Incentive Programs for Non-Pharm Pain Management Therapies
- Sept 2017 update on Joint Commission's Pain Management Standard
- The Field of Acupuncture Research in 10 Minutes
- FDA Pain Management Guideline Recommends Acupuncture
- Lunchtime Listen: the Opioid Epidemic
- Metrics and Pain Management, using a Validated Pain Scale
Useful Infographic on Non-Pharm Pain Relief Options for a PCM
- Moving Beyond Medications: Non-Pharm Approaches to Pain Management and Well-Being, a one-page infographic for PCMs. This is a collaborative work by several national integrative medicine groups.
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