Department of Integrative Medicine

Aurora University of Wisconsin Medical Group

Center for Urban Population Health

Department of Family Medicine

Presentation Notes

Poster presented at: Aurora Scientific Day; May 20, 2020; virtual webinar hosted in Milwaukee, WI.


Background: Acupuncture has been associated with improving various types of acute pain. Our previous study found that acupuncture administered in the emergency department (ED) setting decreases acute pain regardless of analgesics received during visit.

Purpose: To determine if 2 years after program onset, acupuncture continues to improve pain scores regardless of analgesics used during ED visits.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed patients from 2019 who accessed our ED acupuncture program. Similar to our previously published work in 2017, acupuncture services were offered to adult patients (≥18 years old) based on their emergency severity index (ESI; highest severity [1] – lowest severity [5]), reason for visit, and physician recommendation. Only patients’ first visit in 2019 was included in analyses. Basic summary statistics were used to describe patient characteristics. Paired t-tests were used to determine differences in pre- and postacupuncture pain, stress, anxiety, and nausea scores (ie, no pain [0] – worst pain [10]). Logistic regression models were used to determine associations between improvements in pain and patient or visit characteristics.

Results: Acupuncture services were provided to 199 patients (mean age: 47.5 years; body mass index: 32.0 kg/m2 ), who were predominately female (78.4%) and non-Hispanic White (70.4%) and who had an ESI score of 3 (63.3%) or 4 (31.2%). As in 2017, mean pre- and postacupuncture scores for pain (6.7 vs 3.4), stress (6.3 vs 1.5), anxiety (4.9 vs 1.2), and nausea (1.5 vs 0.4) significantly decreased (P<0.001 for all). Most patients had a final acute pain- 358 JPCRR • Volume 7, Issue 4 • Fall 2020 Supplement related diagnosis for neck/back pain (41.9%), abdominal pain (18.7%), or head/headache (14.7%). Improved pain scores were not associated with any patient characteristics. As in 2017, receiving opioids only during the ED visit was not associated with improved pain scores (P=0.21), nor was receiving nonsteroidals (P=0.07) or tramadol (P=0.42). However, receiving any pain medication in the ED was associated with improved pain scores (P=0.028). Improved pain scores was not predictive for receiving any pain medications, including opioids, at discharge (P>0.05 for all).

Conclusion: Similar to 2017 findings, emergency department acupuncture remains associated with significantly decreased pain, stress, anxiety, and nausea. Our findings continue to support ED acupuncture for acute pain in the ED and further support the need for a larger randomized controlled trial.

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