Acupuncture/ pressurePain

Auricular acupuncture reduces pain after surgery, but does it matter?

This is the first study of this form of acupuncture in patients having surgery in an outpatient setting.

  • 120 patients had arthroscopic knee surgery under standardized general anesthesia.
  • They were randomly assigned to receive auricular acupuncture or a control procedure.
  • Acupuncture needles were inserted before surgery and retained in place until the following morning.

And the results

  • Patients who received auricular acupuncture required significantly less ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain relief compared to patients who got the invasive needle control procedure.
  • The median amount of ibuprofen required in the acupuncture group was 200 mg — half of a 400 mg tablet of Motrin.
  • The other group required 600 mg of ibuprofen after surgery.

The bottom line?

Sometimes there’s a difference between what’s statistically significant and what’s important to the patient.

Whether the difference in ibuprofen use reported in this study would be really important to a patient is debatable. Maybe more painful operations should be studied.

1/19/07 19:22 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.