Acupuncture in the ED
Written by Editor   
Saturday, November 17, 2018 11:50 AM

In August, we reported PTs in Emergency Departments, When DCs?  Now a new study promotes acupuncture in emergency departments.  

Acupuncture in the emergency department (ED) setting relieves pain, cuts stress and anxiety, and is acceptable to the majority of patients, new research shows.

“We’re in an opioid crisis and pain management crisis, and physicians along with their patients are seeking nonpharmacological options for pain control,”the author of the study reports.  The ED is often the first place patients are exposed to an opioid, said the author who holds a doctorate in physical therapy, a masters in oriental medicine and is a certified acupuncturist in the state of Wisconsin.

A person with no history of pain or opioid use might have an accident, break a bone, go to the ED and be prescribed an opioid for pain.  As with other healthcare professionals, Burns and colleagues are keen to do their part in reducing the burden of prescription opioids. They believe that acupuncture may help decrease acute pain in patients seeking ED services.

Originating from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a nonpharmacologic intervention that involves inserting needles into skin or tissue at specific points in the body.  Research has shown that acupuncture may be useful for treating musculoskeletal conditions, neuropathy, and digestive problems, among others.

Before this study could get under way, however, the researchers had to get ED staff on board.  “One of our aims was just to see if it was feasible, if people would accept it.  At first, physicians were very skeptical. I had to meet with the emergency room physicians, and I had to explain why we wanted to do this pilot study,” the author said.  In the end, he won the physicians over.

Per the study protocol, if a staff member believed a patient who presented at the ED was an appropriate candidate for acupuncture, and if the attending physician agreed, they asked the patient whether he or she wanted to participate in the study, and if so acupuncture was offered free of charge to study participants.

As we did in August, again we wonder, “when DCs?”