References & Further Reading


Modern research has indicated that there is varying evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture to treat pain.

For acute pain, a systemic review of 13 trials indicated that acupuncture was more effective than sham needling and pain killer injections.(1)

A meta-analysis of 18,000 people from randomized controlled trials concluded that ‘acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain’.(2)

There is strong evidence for acupuncture may be effective for:

  • Chronic low back pain (3&4)
  • Postoperative pain (5)

There is moderate evidence that acupuncture is effective for:

  • Acute lower back pain (6)
  • Shoulder pain (7)
  • Sciatica (8&9)
  • Knee Osteo-Arthritis (10&11)
  • Plantar heel pain (12)
  • Cancer pain (13)
  • Pain associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) (14&15)


There is strong evidence that acupuncture is effective for migraine and tension and chronic headaches.

A review of 10 trials including 997 participants found superior effect of acupuncture when used in migraine. The effectiveness was that it reduced the frequency and intensity of the headaches. (16)

Another study showed acupuncture to be as effective as conventional proven medications. (17)

The most recent Cochrane systemic review update confirmed positive effect of acupuncture for frequent episodic and chronic tension type headaches. (18)


(1) Xiang A, Cheng K, Xu P, Liu S (n.d.); The immediate analgesic effect of acupuncture for pain: a systemic review and meta-analysis.)

(2) Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewotj G, MacPherson H, Foster NE et al; 2012;Acupuncture for Chronic Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine,172(19),1444.)

(3) Wellington J. Noninvasive and alternate management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes). Neuromodulation. 2014 Oct;17 Supp 2:24-30.

(4) Lam M, Galvin R, Curry P. Effectivness of acupuncture for nonspecific chronic lower back pain: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 Nov15;38(24):2124-38.

(5) Wu MS, Chen KH, Chen IF, Huang SK, Tzeng PC, Yeh ML, et al. The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Postoperative Pain Management: A systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS ONE. 2016; 11(3):e0150367.

(6) Lee JH, Choi TY,Lee MS, Lee H, Shin BC, Lee H. Acupuncture for acute lower back pain: a systemic review. Clin J Pain. 2013 Feb; 29(2): 172-85.

(7)Dong W, Goost H, Lin XB, Burger C, Paul C, Wang ZL,et al. Treatment for  shoulder impingement syndrome; a PRISMA systematic review and network meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Mar;94(10):e510.

(8) Qin 2015 (SR & MA of 11 RCTs; 10 acupuncture vs sham):  Acupuncture may be superior to drugs and may enhance the effect of drugs for patients with sciatica; low quality evidence.

(9) Lewis RA, Williams NH, Sutton AJ, Burton K, Din NU, Matar HE, et al. Comparative clinical effectiveness of management strategies for sciatica: systemic review and network meta-analysis. Spine J. 2015 Jun1;15(6):1461-77.

(10) Manyanga T, Froese M,Zarychanski R, Abou-Setta A, Friesen C, Tennenhouse M, et al. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systemic review and mets- analysis.  BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:312.

(11) Corbett MS, Rice SJ, Madurasinghe V, Stack R, Fayter DA,Harden M, et al. Acupuncture and other physical treatments for the relief of  pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee: network meta-analysis . Osteoarthritis  Cartilage. 2013 Sept;21(9):1290-8.

(12) Clark Richard J, Tighes Maria. The Effectiveness of Acupuncture for plantar Heel Pain: A Systemic review. Acupuncture in Medicine. October 2012.

(13) Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Systemic review and meta- analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. Eur J Cancer Care  (Engl). 2016Feb 7.

(14) Manheimer E, Wieland LS, Cheng K, Li SM, Shen X, Berman BM,et al. Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome: systemic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol.2012 Jun;107(6);835-47;quiz48.

(15) MacPherson H, Tilbrook H, Agbedjro D, Bukley H, Hewitt C, Frost C. Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome: 2-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Acupunct Med. 2016 Mar15.

(16) Yang Y, Que Q,Ye X, Zheng G. Verum verses sham manual acupuncture for  migraine: a systemic  review of  randomized controlled trials. Acupunct Med. 2016 Apr;34(2):76-83.

(17) Da Silva AN.Acupuncture for migrane prevention. Headache. 2015 Mar;55(3):470-3.

(18) Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Shin BC, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;4:Cd007587.

Books on Chinese Medicine

Between Heaven and Earth. A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Harriet Beinfield

The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke

The Infertility Cure : The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies by Randine Lewis

Healing with Whole Foods : Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford

Staying Healthy With the Seasons by Elson M. Haas

Live Long Live Well: Teaching from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Tradition by Peter Deadman

Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

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