Acupuncture is effective for whiplash injuries

Objectives: This study aimed to establish clinical evidence for acupuncture by analysing data from trials that demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture for whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) with the following research question: Is acupuncture treatment effective for symptom alleviation in patients with WAD compared with other usual care?

Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: PubMed, Ovid Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, ScienceOn, KMBASE, Korean Studies Information Service System, Korea Med, Oriental Medicine Advanced Searching Integrated System and Research Information Sharing Service were searched from their inception to 1 October 2023.

Eligibility criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) using acupuncture on patients with WAD. The outcomes were the pain visual analogue scale (VAS) score or numerical rating scale score for neck pain, the range of motion (ROM) of the neck, the Neck Disability Index and safety.

Data extraction and synthesis: Two independent researchers analysed and extracted data from the selected literatures. The risk of bias and the quality of evidence were assessed according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation method, respectively.

Results: A total of 525 patients with whiplash-associated disorder from eight RCTs were included in this study. The meta-analysis revealed that the outcomes showed significant differences in the pain VAS score (standard mean difference (SMD): -0.57 (-0.86 to -0.28), p<0.001) and ROM-extension (SMD: 0.47 (0.05 to 0.89), p=0.03). The risk of bias assessment revealed that four studies published after 2012 (50%, 4 out of 8 studies) showed low bias in most domains. The pain VAS score was graded as having moderate certainty.

Conclusion: Acupuncture may have clinical value in pain reduction and increasing the range of motion for patients with whiplash-associated disorder. 


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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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