Could acupuncture needle sensation be a predictor of analgesic response?

Faculty of Health, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK.
Acupuncture in Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.68). 07/2009; 27(2):65-7. DOI: 10.1136/aim.2008.000174
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT During acupuncture some patients experience distinct sensations which are often referred to as needle sensation. Needle sensation may be related to treatment outcome, although what constitutes adequate acupuncture needle sensation is not known. In this paper, we debate the possibility of using the self-report of the overall intensity of needle sensation as a predictor of analgesic outcome to acupuncture. We describe how our approach to establish criteria to determine adequacy of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation interventions in clinical trials has been used to inform our search for markers of adequacy of procedural technique for acupuncture. We describe previous research which has focused on developing tools to capture the nature of the descriptors used by patients when they self-report needle sensation and reveal that little attention has been given to its role in outcome. We demonstrate that needle sensation is a complex phenomenon with subjects using multiple descriptors to report their experience. We argue that the intensity of the overall experience of needle sensation may prove useful as a gross marker of the adequacy of acupuncture. We briefly describe our research which isolates individual components of needling technique, such as depth of needle penetration and bidirectional needle rotation, in order to assess their contribution to overall needle sensation intensity.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We compared the activities of functional regions of the brain in the Deqi versus non-Deqi state, as reported by physicians and subjects during acupuncture. Twelve healthy volunteers received sham and true needling at the Waiguan (TE5) acupoint. Real-time cerebral functional MRI showed that compared with non-sensation after sham needling, true needling activated Brodmann areas 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 20, 21, 37, 39, 40, 43, and 47, the head of the caudate nucleus, the parahippocampal gyrus, thalamus and red nucleus. True needling also deactivated Brodmann areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 18, 24, 31, 40 and 46.
    Neural Regeneration Research 10/2012; 7(30):2362-9. DOI:10.3969/j.issn.1673-5374.2012.30.006 · 0.23 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract De qi is a concept most often associated with patient experiences during needling in acupuncture treatment. A review of the early historical literature on acupuncture shows that texts tended to describe de qi and its associated concept, qi zhi more in terms of practitioner-based phenomena and that this is something more in the realm of the experienced practitioner (i.e., it is skill based). Many modern authors in Asia and the West also describe the importance of practitioner-based experiences in the de qi of acupuncture, further implying that this may lie at the heart of the treatment effects of acupuncture. A review of scientific studies on de qi shows that qualitative studies have focused almost exclusively on patient-based aspects of de qi while quantitative studies have focused exclusively on them. There thus exists a gap in current research on the phenomenon of de qi that possibly reveals weakness in the wider study of acupuncture. It is important that precise qualitative studies of the practitioner-based aspects of de qi begin soon and as they become better understood, quantitative research also is initiated. This research will not only better inform clinical trials and physiologic research of acupuncture in general but could contribute significantly to rethinking of how to train practitioners.
    Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) 11/2014; 21(1). DOI:10.1089/acm.2014.0267 · 1.52 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: As an important modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture has been widely accepted by the Western world in the past 4 decades because of this modality's efficacy and safety. A vast amount of acupuncture research has been done. However, the mechanisms of acupuncture actions are still elusive. It is believed that the effects of acupuncture treatment begin from the moment of needle insertion. Methods: This review focuses on the acupuncture points and the three major reactions at the acupuncture points when needling is performed. These initial reactions may be the beginning of the healing process that initiates downstream effects through neuronal and humoral pathways. In addition to the physical reactions, this article also discusses the possibility of the effects of acupuncture on the healing process through a holistic pathway. Conclusions: Needling is the first step of traditional acupuncture therapy. Needling reactions- neuronal, biophysical, and biochemical-are the beginning of healing. The messengers of the three reactions involved may include neurotransmitters, cytokines, hormones, and inflammatory factors. Healing may be potentiated through these messengers in neuronal and humoral pathways. The reactions manifest as erythema and De Qi-both of which are common phenomena used as positive signs in acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture may also play a role in the healing process through the holistic pathway, which needs further study.
    Medical Acupuncture 10/2014; 26(5):264-270. DOI:10.1089/acu.2014.1057