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Editor's Choice

Acupuncture: theatrical placebo or caring approach to pain?

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 08 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1076

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Acupotomology: the inheritance and innovation of acupuncture to pain

We are very gratified by the fact that acupuncture can solve severe pelvic girdle pain. Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that originated more than 3000 years ago. It involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into acupoints, which are invariably regarded as an obscure concept.

In recent years, the precise mechanism of analgesia has been studied [1, 2]. Acupuncture is widely used to treat many types of pain and has few adverse effects compared with many drugs and medical procedures. Hence, the popularity of acupuncture has increased in many Western nations over the past few decades. Lucy Chen [3] considered that acupuncture may effectively contribute to pain management in rheumatoid arthritis and back and neck pain, but rigorous study methods and high-level assessment tools are needed.

Acupotome evolving from acupuncture needle is a new-style needle with blade, a flat head and a cylindrical body. It is considered to be minimally invasive surgery in traditional Chinese medicine, combining Chinese acupuncture therapy and modern surgical principles [4]. Acupotome therapy was first introduced in China in 1976, and then was widely used for its good curative effect and reduced cost. It was formally named as acupotomology and became a national second-level discipline in September 2003.

Acupotome treatment of dizziness, headache and vomiting caused by cervical spondylosis involving the first three cervical vertebras, can be proved by current medical imaging of X-ray and MRI. Of course, we also oppose the pseudoscience that acupuncture can treat infertility [5]. For better and faster development of acupotomology, more rigorous randomized controlled trials and high-level assessment tools are urgently needed. Acupuncture and acupotomology may be the best way to treat soft tissue pain, and will be recognized by more and more people in the near future.

1. Goldman N, Chen M, Fujita T, et al. Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive effects of acupuncture. Nat Neurosci.2010 Jul; 13(7):883-888.
2. Torres-Rosas R, Yehia G, Pena G, et al. Dopamine mediates vagal modulation of the immune system by electroacupuncture. Nat Med. 2014 Mar; 20(3):291-295.
3. Chen L, Michalsen A. Management of chronic pain using complementary and Integrative medicine. BMJ. 2017 Apr 24; 357:j1284.
4. Liu F, Zhou F, Zhao M, et al. Acupotomy Therapy for Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017:6197308.
5. Wu XK, Stener-Victorin E, Kuang HY, et al. Effect of Acupuncture and Clomiphene in Chinese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2017 Jun 27; 317(24):2502-2514.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 March 2018
Wu Guo
Ge Qian
Children's Hospital Affiliated to Zhengzhou University
No33.Longhu outer ring road of Zhengzhou