Acupuncture Provides Pain Relief in a Total Joint Replacement Program

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

Crespin DJ, Griffin KH, Johnson JR, Miller C, Finch MD, Rivard RL, Anseth S, Dusek JA

PMID: 25586769


OBJECTIVE: Given the risks of opioid medications, nonpharmacological strategies should be considered for total joint replacement patients. We investigated acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for postsurgical pain management in a total joint replacement program by examining which total hip and knee replacement patients elected to receive acupuncture and the effect of acupuncture on short-term pain.

DESIGN: A total joint replacement program using fast-track physiotherapy offered elective postsurgical acupuncture to all patients, at no additional cost, as an adjunct therapy to opioids for pain management.

SETTING: The Joint Replacement Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, a 630-bed teaching and specialty hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 2010 to 2012.

SUBJECTS: Our sample included 2,500 admissions of total hip (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR) patients.

METHODS: 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).

RESULTS: 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 prepain score. Forty-one percent of patients reported moderate/severe pain prior to receiving acupuncture, while only 15% indicated moderate/severe pain after acupuncture.

CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture may be a viable adjunct to pharmacological approaches for pain management after THR or TKR.