Study shows beneficial effects of acupuncture on post-traumatic stress

Acupuncture intervention shows promise as a complementary approach to improving both psychological and pain symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a natural disaster, according to a new study published in the journal Medical Acupuncture.

The researchers studied the effects of acupuncture on the victims of a 6.0 earthquake that caused nearly 300 deaths and left 30,000 people homeless in Amatrice, Central Italy. Researchers administered a five-week acupuncture intervention over five weeks, from September to October 2016. Adult patients with psychological symptoms and musculoskeletal pain were included.

Treatments were performed by experienced medical acupuncturists, and verbal and numerical scales were developed to quantify the effect of the intervention. Each subject received four 20-minute acupuncture treatments over consecutive days. A Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used for comparison of the scores before and after the acupuncture treatment, according to the study abstract.

Of the study participants, 68.3 percent reported having both pain and psychological symptoms. After three treatments were performed, 54.05 percent and 60.6 percent of patients reported marked improvements in psychological and pain symptoms, respectively. Statistical analysis showed a significant difference between the scores reported before the first treatment and after the third treatment, both for pain and psychological symptoms. No serious adverse events were reported, researchers said.

The results suggest that acupuncture could be a useful tool for reducing pain and psychological symptoms for PTSD patients, researchers said. However, they say further research is required.