Objective: Pain following total knee arthroplasty is common. Various modalities of treating orthopedic postoperative pain exist; however, the optimal management of postoperative pain remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine acupuncture’s effect on postoperative analgesic consumption and cortisol levels in patients undergoing knee arthroplasty.
Materials and methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 80 patients scheduled for elective knee arthroplasty surgery were recruited and randomly assigned to 2 groups: (1) an intervention group, receiving acupuncture treatment on days 1 and 2 in addition to standard POP management (n = 40) and a control group, who received standard postoperative pain management only (n = 40).
Results: There was no statistical difference between the groups in analgesic consumption on days 1 and 3 postoperatively. On day 5 postoperatively, lower analgesic consumption was seen in the intervention group, compared to the control group. However, this difference was not statistically significant (1.4 versus 2.3, respectively; P = 0.215).
There was no statistical difference between the groups in cortisol levels on day 1 postoperatively. In contrast, on day 2 postoperatively, cortisol level was significantly lower in the intervention group, compared to the control group (296 nmol/L versus 400 nmol/L, respectively; P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The findings suggest that acupuncture may have some effect on patients’ analgesic consumption short-term after knee arthroplasty. Further studies with larger samples are required for establishing these results.