Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The effect of real and sham acupuncture on thermal sensation and thermal pain thresholds.

Here is more evidence that there's no specific effect of needling, much less of acupuncture (which is needling with the hocus pocus of meridian theory, unverifiable acupuncture "points", yin and yang, qi, etc.).



Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005; 86(6): 1252 - 7.

The effect of real and sham acupuncture on thermal sensation and thermal pain thresholds.

Downs NM, Kirk K, Macsween A.

ABSTRACT:

Objective
To compare the effect of real and sham acupuncture and a control intervention on thermal sensation and thermal pain thresholds.

Design
Single-blind, randomized controlled, repeated-measures trial.

Setting - Laboratory.
Participants Eighteen acupuncture naive, healthy subjects with no history of upper-limb pathology or acupuncture contraindications.

Intervention
Subjects were randomly assigned (blind card allocation) to 1 of 6 possible orders of application of the interventions, which consisted of 25 minutes each of control, real, and sham acupuncture.

Main Outcome Measures
Thermal sensation and thermal pain thresholds measured with a thermal sensory analyzer before and after each intervention.

Results
There were increases in cold and hot pain and cold sensation thresholds with real acupuncture. The level of increase did not differ significantly from the changes that occurred with sham acupuncture and control interventions.

Conclusions
Although we observed a trend toward a decreased sensitivity to thermal pain and thermal sensation with real acupuncture, this trend did not differ significantly from the changes with control or sham interventions. Therefore, no support was provided for analgesic or placebo effects of acupuncture. The trend, combined with the relatively low power of the inferential tests applied does, however, suggest that further research is merited.

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