Acupuncture Provides Short-Term Pain Relief for Patients in a Total Joint Replacement Program

Considering the risks of opioid medications, nonpharmacological strategies should be considered for total joint replacement patients. This study examine acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for postsurgical pain management in a total joint replacement program by examining which total hip and knee replacement patients choose to receive acupuncture and the effect of acupuncture on short-term pain. Self-reported pain was assessed before and after acupuncture using a 0-10 scale and categorized as none/mild (0-4) and moderate/severe pain (5-10). Seventy-five percent of admissions included acupuncture. Women (Odds Ratio: 1.48, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.22, 1.81) had higher odds of receiving acupuncture compared to men, and nonwhite patients (Odds Ratio: 0.55, 95% CI: 0.39, 0.78) had lower odds of receiving acupuncture compared to white patients. Average short-term pain reduction was 1.91 points (95% CI: 1.83, 1.99), a 45% reduction from the mean pre-pain score. Forty-one percent of patients reported moderate/severe pain prior to receiving acupuncture, while only 15% indicated moderate/severe pain after acupuncture.

Acupuncture could be a feasible adjunct to pharmacological approaches for pain management after THR or TKR.