An article published today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune online details their use of acupuncture in a observational study in the ER–and how it decreased analgesic opioid usage there. Although this was a small study, it nonetheless shows a need for further research, as the results look promising. Patients that opted for acupuncture alone felt a reduction in pain equal to that of those who received both acupuncture and pain killers. Patients not only felt a reduction in pain, but also in anxiety.
See the article here: http://www.startribune.com/abbott-pioneers-acupuncture-in-the-er/371991031/
Not only is opioid addiction and abuse on the rise, but also the way people have arrived at addiction to opioids has changed. In the 1960s, 80 percent of opioid addicts were first introduced via heroin usage. Today, 80 percent started their addiction through prescription pain killers (www.drugabuse.gov).
Of course, opioids are necessary in some cases, but as soon as the patient is able to wean off, they should. The ideal scenario is to not start an addiction–either by seeking out alternative therapies like acupuncture in lieu of pain killers…or only using opioids for a short period of time, then using both acupuncture and opioids concurrently, weaning off slowly, under doctor supervision, until the need for the prescription meds is no longer there.
The fact that a hospital in Minneapolis hired an acupuncturist full time two years ago is a sign of progress in the United States–and a welcome sign that perhaps hospitals are seeing a need for therapies outside of strictly Western approaches. As the hospital’s acupuncturist Adam Reinstein states in the article–“It’s not about Western medicine…It’s not about the medication. It’s not about acupuncture. It’s about, what can we do to make the patient feel better?”