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.