A 2012 study of acupuncture published in the Archives of Internal Medicine definitively found that acupuncture can indeed ease neck and back pain, arthritis, chronic headache, shoulder pain, and other forms of chronic pain.
The findings from this 2012 study provide strong scientific support for a therapy that can be traced back thousands of years in east Asian countries and now used by millions of Americans today. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the 2012 research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients.
Acupuncture, which involves inserting needles at various places on the body to stimulate so-called acupoints, is among the most widely practiced forms of alternative medicine in the country and is now integrated by many hospitals in cancer and orthopedic wards. Although acupuncture is often sought by adults looking for relief from chronic pain, acupuncture is also used with growing frequency in children because of the fact that it is considered a safe, effective, and non-invasive therapy. According to government estimates, about 150,000 children in the United States underwent acupuncture in 2007.
Many studies were previously done in China, Japan, Germany, France, England, and other countries, but the United States would not accept these studies were not classified as "high enough quality." It has taken three decades for the United States to generate enough interest in acupuncture to substantiate the cost to run "high quality" studies.
Many American hospitals, including UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, have integrated acupuncture services to assist in the treatment of various health problems.
Professional athletes and celebrities rely on acupuncture to manage pain. Both the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants have acupuncturists on staff to treat players. NBA Player Dwayne Wade receives acupuncture to soothe knee pain.
Even the conservative U.S. Military has adopted acupuncture on the battlefield to minimize injury pain suffered by troops during service because it reduces the level of narcotics used.