Well Being

Western Science Says Acupuncture Really Works For Chronic Pain. Now Can Western Insurance Cover It?

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acupuncture works for chronic pain
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, and probably because it has measurable benefits that keep practitioners in business. But getting western medicine to approve–and include it under health insurance policies–has been a different story. Now, a new study proves that acupuncture does actually reduce chronic pain, and not because of the placebo effect.

The study, conducted by Andrew Vickers, an epidemiologist and biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, compared acupuncture to standard pain management, compared the effects of acupuncture to standard pain management, fake acupuncture, and nothing at all. Vickers and his team cherry-picked the most rigorous studies comparing acupuncture to fake treatments (29, in total, which involved a total of 17,922 participants), and asked the original researchers for their raw data for analysis. By gathering the raw data, they were able to apply the same standards of interpretation on patient evaluations, instead of trying to compare different researchers' analysis.

The result was very clear proof that acupuncture is more effective in treating chronic back pain, shoulder pain, osteoarthritis and headaches than no acupuncture at all. Western doctors are still trying to come up with their own explanation for why the tiny needles help (“Qi” doesn't sit comfortably in their vocabulary quite yet), but as more and more proof mounts that it can be as or more effective than western methods of treatment, hopefully more doctors will start to prescribe it…and urge insurance policies to pay for it, too.

Photo: flickr user marniejoyce