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American Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) Responding to Misinformation Distributed by LiveScience.com

NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- American Association of Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine

Toll-free Phone/Fax: (866)-455-7999  |  [email protected]

In response to misinformation being distributed by LiveScience.com ("X-Ray Reveals Hundreds of Gold Needles in Woman's Knees," published January 14th, 2014), the American Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), the national professional organization representing acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) professionals in the United States, offered facts, scientific evidence and information concerning the AOM profession.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140127/MN52290)

The LiveScience.com article, by Staff Editor Bahar Gholipour, reported on a New England Journal of Medicine clinical image report, which shows the traditional Asian medical practice of inserting gold threads subcutaneously in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Gholipour stated: "…little evidence supports the idea that treating medical conditions with acupuncture actually works" and referenced an earlier conflicting LiveScience.com article, which concluded "acupuncture is effective, and is a reasonable treatment option for patients with chronic pain."

The information presented by AAAOM should serve to educate Gholipour and the public, and includes widely available, credible information that refute the baseless and misleading statements being promulgated by LiveScience.com. Our response was focused in the following areas:

  • Acupuncture is safe when practiced by a licensed acupuncturist. It has an unparalleled safety record with minimal risk of side effects. Acupuncture is utilized by well-respected medical schools and reputable hospitals and clinics, further demonstrating the *solidarity of the scientific evidence related to it's safety and effectiveness. 
  • As documented by a recent meta-analysis of four chronic pain conditions, "real" acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture. Needling at true acupuncture points was consistently statistically superior to sham acupuncture. Moreover, the effect size of "real" acupuncture, when compared to other interventions, such as usual or ancillary care, was also significant. Due to it's large sample size (over 17,000), the results of this study were unlikely due to study bias or sample size issues, suggesting "real" acupuncture can be a beneficial option for patients suffering from chronic pain.
  • Acupuncture is a cost-effective, low-tech and minimally-invasive system of care that has been found to be highly effective in the treatment of commonly occurring medical conditions, eliciting consistent and meaningful improvement outcomes.
  • The insertion of semi-permanent subcutaneous and permanent percutaneous metal threads or needles is not a generally accepted practice by acupuncturists in the United States. However, many healthcare providers, including physicians and acupuncturists, use types of electroanalgesia such as percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) whereby needles are temporarily or permanently placed in the body and connected to a device that stimulates them with electricity for pain management. Gholipour's article fails to mention PENS or its efficacy, and instead only provides misinformation on this traditional Asian medical practice.
  • Acupuncture's safety is rooted in how it is applied by license practitioners. In the United States, training of acupuncturists is regulated according to individual state law. Currently, more than 43 states and the District of Columbia have such laws in place. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) offers national certification examinations for AOM practitioners, which are required by almost all of the aforementioned states. Many accredited institutions offer master's level degrees. Some schools have begun to offer doctorate level programs, which include significant additional didactic and clinical doctoral training. 

In closing, the information provided in response to Gholipour's misinformed article documents acupuncture as a standardized, licensed, and regulated health care profession that conducts training in accredited institutions and provides safe, cost-effective and comparatively effective evidence-based medical services. The AAAOM and its sister organizations stand in support of utilizing acupuncture effectively and appropriately and continue to distribute the most up-to-date information regarding research, training, certification, state licensure, or the efficacy of acupuncture treatments. 

Please click here to read the full response.

Media Contact: Michael Jabbour, AAAOM, (347) 879-5777, [email protected]

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