Daniel J. Crespin, MSPH, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the role of acupuncture as an adjunct for postsurgical pain management in total joint replacement. A cohort of 2,500 admissions for total hip and knee replacement were offered elective postsurgical acupuncture, at no additional cost, as an adjunct to opioids for pain management. Three-quarters of the admissions included acupuncture.
The researchers found that the odds of receiving acupuncture were higher for women vs. men (odds ratio, 1.48) and lower for nonwhite patients vs. white patients (odds ratio, 0.55). There was a 1.91-point average short-term pain reduction, representing a 45% reduction from the mean pre-pain score. Moderate/severe pain was reported by 41% of patients prior to receiving acupuncture and by 15% after acupuncture.
“Acupuncture may be a viable adjunct to pharmacological approaches for pain management after total hip replacement or total knee replacement,” the authors write.