Research
Finishing touch


Acupuncture may be just as effective at treating acute pain as drugs, according to a new study led by Professor Marc Cohen. Jane Kitchen investigates

From Spa Business 2017 issue 3 . . BY Jane Kitchen, Spa Business and Spa Opportunities

Professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia – a familiar face in the spa industry – has led a large study on the use of acupuncture for treating acute pain, finding the practice provides relief equivalent to the use of drugs in an emergency room setting.

The randomised, controlled trial involved 528 patients with acute lower back pain, migraine or ankle sprains who presented at the emergency departments of four leading Melbourne hospitals between January 2010 and December 2011.

“While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments,” says Cohen.

Patients who identified their level of pain as at least four on a 10-point scale randomly received one of three types of treatment: acupuncture alone, acupuncture plus pharmacotherapy, or pharmacotherapy alone.

One hour after treatment, less than 40 per cent of patients across all three groups felt any significant pain reduction (two or more points), but 48 hours later, the vast majority found their treatment acceptable, with 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients saying they would probably or definitely repeat their treatment. This is compared with 80.8 per cent in the combined group, and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy-only group.

Cohen says the study shows acupuncture is a viable alternative and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs.

And while the emergency room setting is a far cry from the relaxed vibes of a destination spa, Cohen says that beyond providing further evidence of acupuncture’s efficacy, there are takeaways for our industry.

“Acupuncture stimulates the body’s immune system,” he explains. “You’re not applying a drug, you’re just manipulating the body’s own healing mechanisms. The study also speaks to the integration of ancient and modern technology – which is often what we do in spas. They’re not incompatible.”

Cohen is currently working on several other wellness-related studies, including the Global Sauna Survey, which seeks to gain insight into people’s sauna habits and experiences (saunasurvey.org); and a study on users of the Wim Hof method – which uses cold therapy, breathing exercises and a committed mindset – to ascertain its health and resilience benefits (WHMsurvey.org).

 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2017 issue 3

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Spa Business - Finishing touch

Research

From Spa Business 2017 issue 3
Finishing touch


Acupuncture may be just as effective at treating acute pain as drugs, according to a new study led by Professor Marc Cohen. Jane Kitchen investigates

Jane Kitchen, Spa Business and Spa Opportunities
Cohen says the study shows acupuncture can be a viable alternative to drugs Leonardo da/SHUTTERSTOCK
Professor Marc Cohen is also working on studies on saunas and cold therapy

Professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia – a familiar face in the spa industry – has led a large study on the use of acupuncture for treating acute pain, finding the practice provides relief equivalent to the use of drugs in an emergency room setting.

The randomised, controlled trial involved 528 patients with acute lower back pain, migraine or ankle sprains who presented at the emergency departments of four leading Melbourne hospitals between January 2010 and December 2011.

“While acupuncture is widely used by practitioners in community settings for treating pain, it is rarely used in hospital emergency departments,” says Cohen.

Patients who identified their level of pain as at least four on a 10-point scale randomly received one of three types of treatment: acupuncture alone, acupuncture plus pharmacotherapy, or pharmacotherapy alone.

One hour after treatment, less than 40 per cent of patients across all three groups felt any significant pain reduction (two or more points), but 48 hours later, the vast majority found their treatment acceptable, with 82.8 per cent of acupuncture-only patients saying they would probably or definitely repeat their treatment. This is compared with 80.8 per cent in the combined group, and 78.2 per cent in the pharmacotherapy-only group.

Cohen says the study shows acupuncture is a viable alternative and would be especially beneficial for patients who are unable to take standard pain-relieving drugs.

And while the emergency room setting is a far cry from the relaxed vibes of a destination spa, Cohen says that beyond providing further evidence of acupuncture’s efficacy, there are takeaways for our industry.

“Acupuncture stimulates the body’s immune system,” he explains. “You’re not applying a drug, you’re just manipulating the body’s own healing mechanisms. The study also speaks to the integration of ancient and modern technology – which is often what we do in spas. They’re not incompatible.”

Cohen is currently working on several other wellness-related studies, including the Global Sauna Survey, which seeks to gain insight into people’s sauna habits and experiences (saunasurvey.org); and a study on users of the Wim Hof method – which uses cold therapy, breathing exercises and a committed mindset – to ascertain its health and resilience benefits (WHMsurvey.org).


Originally published in Spa Business magazine 2017 issue 3

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