Thursday, September 22nd
Basic, Mechanistic, and Clinical Research Exploring Acupuncture Therapy for Pain: an NIH perspective
Dr. Chen will introduce the panel and speakers, provide an overview and international scope of acupuncture research, highlight some recent advances in basic, mechanistic, and clinical acupuncture and pain research, and moderate the session. Acupuncture in an ancient medical technique originated in China. By inserting thin needles into body at specific anatomical locations, improvements in a range of symptoms, especially painful conditions, have been reported empirically and by many meta-analyses of clinical trials. However, the therapeutic values of acupuncture for pain management are fraught with controversy, largely due to difficulty to dissociate specific effects of acupuncture needling techniques from non-specific therapeutic effects such as placebo effects and social interaction as well as ambiguity in acupuncture’s effects on clinical outcomes and physiological mechanisms. As the United States is combating an opioid crisis and the underlying challenges of pain management, acupuncture has emerged as a prominent complementary solution. Better understanding of how and whether acupuncture works for pain relief is now critical as we consider the possibility of its broader usage for pain management. Recent advances on basic mechanisms by which acupuncture may exert its therapeutic effects, including work by Dr. Qiufu Ma funded by NCCIH, will be highlighted.