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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3837194, 13 pages
Review Article

The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Sheng Liu

Received 12 April 2017; Accepted 14 August 2017; Published 25 October 2017

Academic Editor: Shu-Ming Wang

Copyright © 2017 Anfeng Xiang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although acupuncture is gaining popularity for the treatment of nonspecific pain, the immediate analgesic effect of acupuncture has never been reviewed. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on disease-related pain to critically evaluate the immediate effect of acupuncture for pain relief. The PubMed and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases as well as three Chinese databases including the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Wanfang, and VIP platforms were searched through November 2016. The outcome was the extent of pain relief from baseline within 30 min of the first acupuncture treatment. We evaluated all RCTs comparing acupuncture with other interventions for disease-related pain. Real acupuncture showed statistically significantly greater pain relief effect compared to sham acupuncture (SMD, −0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.00 to −0.12; 9 RCTs) and analgesic injection (SMD, −1.33; 95% CI, −1.94 to −0.72; 3 RCTs). No serious adverse events were documented. Acupuncture was associated with a greater immediate pain relief effect compared to sham acupuncture and analgesic injections. Further RCTs with stricter design and methodologies are warranted to evaluate the immediate pain relief effect of acupuncture for more disease-related pain.