Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition that affects many women’s lives. Symptoms can range from none to chronic pelvic pain, with the most notable being dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation). Unfortunately, current methods of managing endometriosis pain are often inadequate. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice, has been studied for its effectiveness in treating various gynecological disorders, but its impact on endometriosis pain remains uncertain.
A Promising Study on Acupuncture for Endometriosis Pain Relief
A recent review published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, sought to determine the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for pain relief in endometriosis. The review analyzed randomized single or double-blind controlled trials enrolling women of reproductive age with a laparoscopically confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis. These studies compared acupuncture (body, scalp, or auricular) to either placebo, sham, no treatment, conventional therapies, or Chinese herbal medicine.
Out of 24 studies that involved acupuncture for endometriosis, only one trial met all the inclusion criteria. This study involved 67 participants and used the 15-point Guideline for Clinical Research on New Chinese Medicine for Treatment of Pelvic Endometriosis scale to measure pain scores and cure rates. The results showed that dysmenorrhea scores were lower in the acupuncture group, with a total effective rate of 91.9% for auricular acupuncture and 60% for Chinese herbal medicine.
The Benefits of Acupuncture for Endometriosis
While the evidence supporting acupuncture’s effectiveness for endometriosis pain is limited to this single study, it does show potential benefits. Acupuncture may provide an alternative or complementary therapy for women suffering from endometriosis pain, mainly when conventional treatments are not providing sufficient relief.
In the study, acupuncture significantly reduced pain in cases of severe dysmenorrhea. This suggests that acupuncture could benefit women with more intense endometriosis pain. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and provide further insight into the potential benefits of acupuncture for endometriosis.
The Need for More Research
The limited evidence highlights the need for well-designed, double-blinded, randomized controlled trials to assess various types of acupuncture compared to conventional therapies. Such studies will help determine acupuncture’s true effectiveness and safety for endometriosis pain relief and improve the quality of life for many women affected by this condition.
A significant issue regarding acupuncture research is when it comes to double-blinded, randomized control studies. A recent study published in PLOS One aimed to determine if acupuncture could be successfully administered in a double-blind manner, a crucial aspect of clinical trials that helps protect against bias. The study involved sixty-seven patients experiencing acute pain following third molar removal. It assessed active acupuncture with a penetrating needle versus placebo acupuncture with a non-penetrating needle. At the study’s end, patients and acupuncturists were asked about their perceptions of the treatment allocation. The results indicated that both patients and acupuncturists could identify the treatment to some extent, with 68% of patients and 83% of acupuncturists correctly identifying the treatment. This suggests that the needles were not successful in achieving double-blinding.
One possible explanation for the inability to achieve double-blinding is the experience of “de qi,” a deep dull pain associated with needle application and rotation in East Asian medicine. There was a significant interaction between the actual or perceived treatment and the experience of de qi, indicating that this sensation and potential non-verbal cues may have contributed to the correct identification of the treatment. Interestingly, 50% of patients who perceived the treatment as active and 23% who perceived it as a placebo reported experiencing de qi. The study concluded that acupuncture treatment was not fully double-blinded, raising questions about alternative methods for assessing acupuncture treatment in clinical trials.
Acupuncture offers a promising alternative for women suffering from endometriosis pain. The study mentioned in this article provides initial evidence supporting its effectiveness, but more research is needed to validate these findings. In the meantime, women seeking relief from endometriosis pain may consider discussing acupuncture as a potential treatment option with their healthcare provider.
If you are looking for a Denver acupuncture clinic for help with endometriosis, or need help with your digestive problems, headaches, pain, psychological conditions, or women’s health issues, contact us today at (720)285-6251 or book an appointment online.