It’s a good day for those with pain who are considering acupuncture – this new report explains why…


Acupuncture is better than usual care and better than sham treatment (going through the motion of performing the treatment without actually performing the treatment).(Vickers et al, 2012)

The landmark paper that showed that, based on the largest dataset of high quality randomised trials, acupuncture was significantly superior both to usual care and sham treatment, for patients with chronic headache, back/neck pain and osteoarthritis:


Acupuncture effects persist after the end of a course of treatment (MacPherson et al, 2016)

One of the consistent criticisms by NICE (The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) has been that the effects of acupuncture are only significant in the short term.

This new analysis of the best available acupuncture multi-trial data indicates otherwise, with about 90 per cent of the benefit of acupuncture relative to controls sustained at 12 months.

Patients can generally be reassured that treatment effects persist:



Many other reviewers disagree with NICE’s interpretation of the evidence on acupuncture. For instance, these two heavy-weights:

  • SIGN, the Scottish equivalent to NICE:
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the official supplier of healthcare evidence reviews in the US (Chou et al, 2016):

Also, the same view of lasting benefit is expressed by:

  • A systematic review of existing guidelines for making recommendations in Ontario (Wong et al, 2016):
  • An overview of systematic reviews from New Zealand/Northern Ireland (Liu et al, 2015):
  • A network meta-analysis comparing 21 different therapies for sciatica (Lewis et al 2015).

These show acupuncture is clearly superior to exercise therapy and radio frequency treatment (ultrasound), both of which are recommended by NICE:

 Other Research

People find acupuncture can bring relief for all sorts of health problems and find it can help to maintain overall well-being during times of heightened stress.

Please take a look at the Research Fact Sheets page, produced by the British Acupuncture Council. These fact sheets show good quality research trials, highlighting how acupuncture may be affecting the body’s nervous system, endocrine system and circulation to restore health.

If you are interested in what patients have to say about their experience of acupuncture, please read the comments on the Patient Experiences page.

Contact Lee

If you have any questions about a condition you have and whether acupuncture may help, please contact Lee on 01837 214888 (for acupuncture in North Tawton) or 01392 927299 (for acupuncture in Exeter).