Acupuncture does work. A major study has confirmed that it eases chronic pain – and it’s got nothing to do with the ‘placebo effect’, where the benefits are all in the patient’s mind.

The therapy should be included in the range of pain- control options offered to patients, say researchers from the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

They are convinced of acupuncture’s effectiveness because of the sheer scale of the research they’ve carried out. They collated 29 different studies involving a total of 17,922 patients who were given either acupuncture or ‘sham’ acupuncture. With sham acupuncture, the needles are either not inserted properly or placed at ‘wrong’ points on the body.

The patients given real acupuncture reported far greater reduction of their pain than those given the fake acupuncture, so demonstrating that it was the actual therapy – and not the placebo effect – that was working.

(Source: Arch Intern Med, 2012; 172: 1444-53.)