Acupuncture is effective in treating postherpetic neuralgia

Background: Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common complication of herpes zoster infection and affects patients’ quality of life. Acupuncture therapy is regarded as a competitive method of treatment for analgesia.

Objective: To summarize evidence from systematic reviews and evaluate the effectiveness and safety of different acupuncture therapies for treating postherpetic neuralgia.

Methods: Eight electronic databases were searched from their inception to August 5, 2022, including 4 international electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Science) and 4 Chinese databases (Chinese Biomedical Database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, VIP Database and Wanfang Database). Methodological quality was assessed by A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2). The Risk of Bias in Systematic Review (ROBIS) tool was used to assess the risk of bias in SRs. Evidence level was assessed by the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

Results: Totally, 7 SRs were included, including 128 studies and 9,792 patients. In AMSTAR 2, most of the SRs were of low or critically low levels since they had more than 1 critical deficiency. In ROBIS, 1 SR (14.29%) was rated as high risk, and the other 6 (85.71%) were rated as low risk. In the GRADE system, 9 outcomes (28.13%) were valued as high level, 5 (15.63%) as moderate level, 1 (3.13%) as low, and 17 (53.13%) as very low.

In the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy, the group “moxibustion vs. original medical treatment” [mean difference (MD)=-1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI): -1.80 to -1.08, I2=99%, P<0.00001] was of the highest heterogeneity and the group “bloodletting vs. original medical treatment” (MD=-2.80, 95% CI: -3.14 to -2.46, I2=0, P<0.00001) was of the lowest heterogeneity. Six SRs have reported the safety of their studies and no serious events were shown in the treatment and control groups.

Conclusions: Acupuncture therapy seems to be effective in treating postherpetic neuralgia.


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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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