Background: Herpes zoster is a common skin disease that has a huge impact on the quality of life of sufferers. Antiviral therapy is a conventional treatment, but it still has limitations. This review evaluates the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of herpes zoster.
Methods: We identified randomized controlled trials from multiple electronic sources (including Embase, PubMed, Cochrane, Web of Knowledge, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and China Biology Medicine Disc (CBM)) and reference lists of relevant articles and extracted data and assessed risk of bias (Cochrane’s Risk of Bias tool). Pooled data are expressed as standardized mean differences (SMDs), with 95% confidence intervals (CI) (random-effects model).
Results: We included 15 trials (1811 participants) comparing acupuncture to medicine. Ten studies involving 1424 patients provided these data for the meta-analysis. The results showed that acupuncture as a control group had a higher clinical cure rate than Western medicine therapy (n = 1424, 95% Cl 2.19-3.14, I 2 = 0%). Eleven studies used the visual analog scale (VAS), but only nine provided specific data, which we used as a continuous variable for data extraction.
The meta-analysis also showed an SMD of -2.64 (n = 646, 95% CI -3.79-1.48, I 2 = 97%) which showed great heterogeneity. Meta-analysis showed a significant reduction in the incidence of PHN in those who received acupuncture compared to pharmacotherapy (OR = 0.35, 95% CI 0.04-2.86, I 2 = 52%) which showed moderate heterogeneity. Economic indicators suggest that acupuncture costs less and has fewer adverse reactions.
Conclusions: This review compares acupuncture therapy with conventional treatment and finds that the curative effects of acupuncture are exact, with fewer side effects.