The conclusions of many trials and numerous systematic reviews of acupuncture are largely inconsistent. An overview of Cochrane reviews found that acupuncture is not effective for a wide range of conditions, and it suggests acupuncture may be effective only for chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting, postoperative nausea/vomiting, and idiopathic headache. A systematic review of systematic reviews found little evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating pain. The evidence suggests that short-term treatment with acupuncture does not produce long-term benefits. Some research results suggest acupuncture can alleviate pain, though the majority of research suggests that acupuncture’s effects are mainly due to placebo. A systematic review concluded that the analgesic effect of acupuncture seemed to lack clinical relevance and could not be clearly distinguished from bias. A meta-analysis found that acupuncture for chronic low back pain was cost-effective as an adjunct to standard care, while a systematic review found insufficient evidence for the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain.
The acupuncture treatment is carried out by an acupuncturist who is schooled in the accurate placement of the needles along the 12 main and 8 secondary meridians located throughout the body. The acupuncturist exams and questions the patient at the time of treatment to decide where to place the needles to achieve the most benefit.