Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Acupuncture in the hospital emergency departments for back pain - A research study


A recent trial conducted in Four Australian hospital emergency departments has found that acupuncture can provide the same relief as strong pain medication for treatment of lower back pain, migraines and sprained ankles. It also found that patients who were treated with acupuncture whilst in hospital tended to be released earlier. 

Acupuncture is considered one of the world’s oldest medical systems of healthcare dating back at least 2000 years. It aims to treat the underlying causes of illness as well as the symptoms and can be beneficial for prevention of disease and maintenance of general wellbeing.¹

A pilot study in a Melbourne emergency department found that 57% of patients who consented to acupuncture as a treatment for pain or nausea rated their satisfaction 10 out 10.²  While a small study is not conclusive this suggests that acupuncture can be an effective method for improving patient satisfaction also.



Medical researchers have been mapping the effect of acupuncture on the brain and have found that it calms down the areas in the brain that are responsible for processing pain, by changing specific neural structures.³ This may provide an explanation of the results achieved in the Australian hospital pain study.


The trial has begun to help convince numerous medical sceptics that acupuncture has a place in our society as a safe and effective method for pain management. Unlike pharmaceutical treatment, acupuncture has little to no side effects, which improves patient satisfaction. Also, with rising healthcare costs and high demand on our emergency departments, low-risk and low cost complementary medicine, like acupuncture, may be a solution according to Dr Ben-Meir, director of Cabrini Hospital’s emergency department.⁴  


Don’t expect to see a wide spread implementation of Acupuncture in Emergency departments in the next few months though, as more research will be required.  Also the medical system is a very closed and entrenched system, and such big mindset changes are very slow to take place.  There would also be a number of political and legal implications, as always things are not as simple, positive results in research doesn’t easily lead to massive changes in long term policies and mindsets.


The full article in the Brisbane times can be found here


Research is investigating how acupuncture can help other conditions also. To find out more here.

With over 1.3 billion people worldwide using acupuncture each day, why not consult our Acupuncturist, Brendon Supple and see for yourself why Acupuncture is one of the most long-standing health care systems in the world.





Make sure you see a qualified practitioner (to find out why and "how to tell" see our article here) .



Call us on 8346 3495 to find out more or book your Acupuncture appointment today.

1.  AACMA. (2014). Acupuncture.
2.  David Brill. (2014). Acupuncture eases pain of ED waits. Australian Doctor
3.  Herald Sun. (2014). Acupuncture for pain relief. Herald Sun
4.  Julia Medew. (2014). Acupuncture as effective as drugs in treating pain, trial shows. Brisbane Times

Image Credits:
1. Erik Ogan via Flickr
2. Kafka4prez via Flickr
3. Ryan Weisgerber via Flickr

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