Thursday, July 27, 2006


Headlines are supposed to tell you the cut-and-chase of an article in a single phrase. I find the following one amusing because, while the headline implies that acupuncture doesn't work, the text demonstrates that the evidence is merely inconclusive due to the poor organization and follow-through of the cited studies. The headline should have read something like Efficacy of Acupuncture Uncertain in Stroke Patients or Evidence of Acupuncture Effectiveness Inconclusive for Treating Stroke. Of course, the study's intent was to find if acupuncture is the "most effective for improving stroke patients' rehabilitation" yet there was no mention of a control group or what the other "best" methods might be. Curious, no?

Reported July 27, 2006
Acupuncture Lacks Evidence, Say Researchers

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- An ancient form of treatment is under new inspection.

Acupuncture has been used in China for over a thousand years and more recently in Western countries to treat chronic stroke. Stroke ranks as the third leading cause of death in Western society, and it is the second most common cause of death in China. It is a main reason for disability and dependency in the elderly. New research reveals acupuncture's scientific data fails to provide sufficient evidence it is, in fact, most effective for improving stroke patients' rehabilitation.

Researchers came to this conclusion after a thorough systemic review. Systemic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practices after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.

Acupuncture has been used to improve patients' motor skills, sensation, speech and other neurological functions. Lead author of the study, Hongmei Wu, M.D., of the West China Hospital in Si Chuan, was very surprised by the findings. "In China, acupuncture has been well accepted by Chinese patients and is widely used for stroke rehabilitation."

The review's intent was to provide evidence that acupuncture should be routinely used to rehabilitate patients with both subacute and chronic stroke. However, the available research failed to offer sound evidence of the effects of this therapy.

Researchers analyzed trials from 368 patients between ages 24 and 86. The hemorrhagic strokes were classified as either subacute -- less than three months since onset, or chronic -- more than three months since onset.

Researchers admit there was some overall improvement after acupuncture treatment, however they warn the results need to be "interpreted with caution" due to the insufficient number and general poor quality of clinical trials.

Wu states "most studies are poor in methodological quality, so the continued recommendation for acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation is uncertain."

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