Traditional and Battlefield Acupuncture Provide Post-Op Pain Relief and Reduced Need for Opioids

PainRelief.com Interview with:

  • Brinda Krish, D.O., lead author of the study and an anesthesiology resident at Detroit Medical Center.
  • Padmavathi Patel, M.D., principal investigator of the study and Medical Director, Northstar Anesthesia at John D. Dingell Veteran Hospital.

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Dr. Padmavathi Patel: Pain is a major contributor to health care costs and a common cause of long-term disability (about  $61.2 billion/year) in lost productivity due to pain.

acupuncture

76.2 million Americans (one in four) have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours (2013).

Numerous literature such as:

1. “Use of prescription opioids in the treatment of pain has increased notably over recent decades.”

2. “Rates of death from prescribed opioids increased four fold between 2000 and 2014.”

3. “16,651 opioid related deaths in 2010.”

4. “The problem of opioid overuse and dependence is seen in the military as well as in civilian.”

-Opioid-related side effects could lead to a delay in recovery.
-Pain control is more challenging for military population.
-More extensive injuries and greater pain severity is seen in survivors of combat- related blast injuries compared to those of non-blast civilians and also they require larger opioid doses.
-Pain is a very common patient complaint, both in veteran and non-veteran populations.
-Among the 5.7 million unique patients seen annually with in the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), more than half of these patients experience chronic pain.

In 2017, The DVA and the United States Department of Defense (DoD) published an updated guidelines on opioid therapy for chronic pain that strongly recommends against initiation of long-term opioid use and recommends alternatives, including non-pharmacologic therapy, such as Acupuncture, which has been shown to be effective for treating a variety of painful conditions.

Acupuncture techniques have been in existence for centuries, with roots tied to Eastern Asia. Traditional acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles at specific trigger points around the body to relieve pain. Battlefield acupuncture (BFA), developed by a U.S. Air Force doctor uses needles that are inserted at various trigger points in the ear. In 2013, $5.4 million was awarded to the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to teach BFA to healthcare providers in both the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs and assess it.  In light of the opioid epidemic, there is a strong need to decrease perioperative opioid use. Opioid use due to postoperative pain along with perioperative anxiety has been linked to increased length of hospital stay, increased morbidity and mortality, and ultimately higher healthcare costs.

Battlefield acupuncture was introduced into Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in the last few years and in VHA, clinicians of various disciplines (MDs, DOs, PAs, nurse-practitioners), can currently obtain clinical privilege to provide it.

I received the Battlefield acupuncture training at John D. Dingell VA medical Center, Detroit and I was surprised with the outcomes of chronic pain patients. As an anesthesiologist I know pain after the surgery is common, often severe and largely unnecessary. I discussed these concerns with the surgeons and created the protocol to use BFA for general surgical patients and traditional acupuncture for hip replacement patients as an adjuvant to the standard protocol for acute post-surgical pain control.

Effective relief of postoperative pain is vital. Such pain probably prolongs hospital stay, as it can affect all the organ systems with side effects. Post op pain remains grossly under treated, with up to 70% of patients reporting moderate to severe pain following surgery.

Multimodal pain control not only can result in earlier discharge from hospital, but it may also reduce the onset of chronic pain syndromes.

2 studies performed TA (n=21), Controls given sham acupuncture (n=21).  BFA (n=28), Controls given sham acupuncture (n=36). Measured variables included post-operative opioid requirements, postoperative pain, the incidence of PONV, and patient satisfaction scores

Key conclusions use of Battlefield acupuncture and Traditional acupuncture reduced post-operative opioid requirements, post-operative pain scores (pain intensity) and increased patient satisfaction scores.  BFA also reduced PONV in patients.  

Are Invasive Procedures Effective for Chronic Pain Relief? A Systematic Review

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Wayne B. Jonas, MD
Executive Director
Samueli Integrative Health Programs, H&S Ventures,
Alexandria, VA

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The search for non-drug approaches to chronic pain is a major recommendation in many recent guidelines for both pain management and reduction in the use of opioids. Surgical and invasive procedures are non-drug approaches often used for pain conditions like back pain and arthritis, so good evidence is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of these procedures. Properly done randomized, placebo-controlled trials are the best way (the gold standard) to get that evidence, so we did a thorough evaluation of such research, using standard systematic review and meta-analysis methods.

Wide Variation in Opioid Prescribing for Pain Relief Following Knee Arthroscopy

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Benjamin Ukert PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
Texas A&M

Mucio Kit Delgado, MD, MS
Department of Emergency Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The opioid epidemic has received a lot of attention and many state policies have been passed to address excessive opioid prescribing and highlight the dangers of opioid use initiation for those who have never been exposed to opioids. We also now know that most patients prescribed opioids for post-operative pain have significant quantities of pills leftover. One study showed that after knee arthroscopy, 50% of patients took no opioids, and 90% took less than 5 pills (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190545/).

We thought to investigate whether overprescribing is still common, and asked the question whether we now observe low levels of prescribing following knee arthroscopy and whether there are differences in prescribing practices across states.

Total Hip Replacement Can Be Safely Performed with Minimal Opioids for Pain Relief

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrew Wickline MD FAAOS
New Hartford, NY 13413

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Joint replacement has long been synonymous with pain relief–but not until 6-12 weeks after surgery.  Many patients put off joint replacement due to fear and anxiety–particularly about the possible pain after surgery often seen in the first several months.  Opioids have long been the mainstay of controlling pain after surgery but are associated with significant side effects and risk for addiction and injury. 

Our study shows that with our comprehensive protocol, 97% of patients can have successful surgical recovery with little to no opioids being necessary to stay comfortable.  Additionally, it shows that 94% of patients can go home within 24 hours and 95% will likely need no post-operative therapy to recover.

Continue reading

Business Model Can Help With Pain Relief Decisions After Surgery

Dr. Schug

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Professor Stephan A Schug MD FANZCA FFPMANZCA EDPZ 
Emeritus Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Medical School  University of Western Australia

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: This paper is the result of applying a widely used tool in operations research, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), to a medical problem, namely the use of parenteral analgesics in postoperative pain management. MCDA is a modelling approach which is aimed at achieving evidence-based decisions in settings of multiple conflicting criteria. It is commonly applied to decisions in politics and business; one of our co-authors is Lawrence D Phillips from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, where he uses this methodology in these settings. However, there is increasing use of this methodology in medicine now, in particular in assessment of medicines with obviously conflicting criteria such as efficacy, adverse effects, safety and even price. The methodology has been applied to a number of medicine (eg psychoactive drugs) and considered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Continue reading

Study Finds Common Sports Procedures Can Be Performed with No Opioids for Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:

Kelechi R. Okoroha, M.D. 
Division of Sports Medicine
Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Henry Ford Health System

Dr. Okoroha

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Postoperative prescriptions following surgery is thought to have a direct role in the availability and exposure of opioids to the general population. This study was created in order to assess the viability of having common sports surgeries without the use of opioids.

PainRelief.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our studies main findings were that common sports procedures can be performed with little or no opioids. 45% of patients did not require breakthrough opioid medication and all patients were satisfied with their pain management. Factors that were associated with requiring opioids included history of anxiety/depression.

Continue reading

Study Tests Pain Relief by Coating Joint Implants with Pain Medication

PainRelief.com Interview with:

Ebru Oral, PhD
Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery
Associate Director, Harris Orthopaedic Laboratory
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA,
Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA

Ebru Oral, PhD Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery Associate Director, Harris Orthopaedic Laboratory Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Oral

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: This study focuses on the possibility of delivering analgesics from the polymeric implant surfaces used in total joint arthroplasty. Currently, there are multi-modal regimens for controlling pain during and after surgery, including peri-articular injections and systemic medications.

The study shows that it is possible to accomplish the delivery of the commonly used drug bupivacaine from the implants at relevant concentrations. The long-term goal is to provide this material as a tool in controlling pain locally so that the use of systemic opioid medications can be decreased.

Continue reading

Variety of Pain Relief Medications Reduced Opioid Usage in Trauma Patients

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Christine S. Cocanour, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M.
Division of Trauma, Acute Care Surgery and Surgical Critical Care 
UC Davis Health

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Our critical care pharmacists (Duby, Hamrick and Lee) and surgeons (Cocanour, Beyer) wanted to decrease our use of opioids without compromising pain control in our trauma patients—especially those that were admitted to the ICU.  To help make more appropriate choices we put together an order set that was a multimodal approach to pain management. 

Continue reading

SEAL Procedure Gives Pain Relief To Some After Failed Back Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Personal Injury Back Pain" by SanDiego PersonalInjuryAttorney is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Michael Perloff, MD PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurology
Interventional Pain Management
Boston University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Low back pain is very common. Patients with chronic low back pain that does not benefit from physical therapy, medications, or injections, often get spine surgery. If surgery fails to help (Failed back surgery syndrome-i.e. continued low back and leg pain after surgery), options for pain relief become more complex.

Typically, patients with failed low back surgery syndrome have tried complex procedures, repeat surgery or technology implants as their main options.

The SEAL procedure is a shortened, simple procedure (done in about 20 minutes) that can help as treatment for failed back surgery symptoms. In the published case series of 30 patients, some patients achieved very good, sustained, pain relief. Continue reading