An ER doctor explores acupuncture as a better alternative to over-prescribing opioids.
Have you ever wondered what doctors think of acupuncture? In this article from Quartz last year, you can read a detailed description of one physician's opinions before and after trying acupuncture as he explores better and safer ways to help his patients compared to relying on opioid medications. The doctor, Conor Lavelle, is honest in his skepticism and also in how limited his knowledge of acupuncture was from his years of medical training.
Acupuncture is notoriously difficult to study scientifically and show consistent results, which sometimes enforces an idea that it is not a worthwhile treatment. Dr. Lavelle also assumed that acupuncture was of little value, based off of the conflicting scientific evidence, until he decided to try acupuncture for his own shoulder pain. He says, "After my acupuncture session, I left the clinic feeling noticeably better than I had before I arrived. I felt loose. My head was clear. My shoulder wasn’t sore. Was it placebo? How could I explain it? I’ve been trained to doubt even the most rigorous medical trials."
With so many patients suffering from addiction to opioid medications, and still dealing with high levels of pain, shouldn't we be looking at all possible forms of treatment in order to find better and safer alternatives? Dr. Lavelle thinks so. He says "The American Pain Society endorsed the use of acupuncture for chronic pain, suggesting that this ancient technique could be part of a new, holistic approach within the context of Western medicine. When a frustrated patient, walking the dark path toward opioid addiction, asks me if they should try acupuncture, at least now I can tell them it’s worth a shot."
I would decidedly agree.