Expectancy and belief modulate the neuronal substrates of pain treated by acupuncture. Neuroimage, 25, 1161-1167

Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, 12 Queen Square, WC1N 3BG London, UK.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 06/2005; 25(4):1161-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.01.016
Source: PubMed


Both specific and non-specific factors may play a role in acupuncture therapy for pain. We explored the cerebral consequences of needling and expectation with real acupuncture, placebo acupuncture and skin-prick, using a single-blind, randomized crossover design with 14 patients suffering from painful osteoarthritis, who were scanned with positron emission tomography (PET). The three interventions, all of which were sub-optimal acupuncture treatment, did not modify the patient's pain. The insula ipsilateral to the site of needling was activated to a greater extent during real acupuncture than during the placebo intervention. Real acupuncture and placebo (with the same expectation of effect as real acupuncture) caused greater activation than skin prick (no expectation of a therapeutic effect) in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and midbrain. These results suggest that real acupuncture has a specific physiological effect and that patients' expectation and belief regarding a potentially beneficial treatment modulate activity in component areas of the reward system.

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    • "It is interconnected to a group of structures deep within the brain; these include the amygdale, hippocampus, parahippocampus, anterior cingulated cortex, prefrontal cortex, septum, nucleus accumbens, hypothalamus, insula and caudate (White et al., 2008). There is now considerable evidence that acupuncture has a considerable effect on the limbic system (Hui et al., 2000; Hui et al., 2005; Pariente et al., 2005). This general effect of acupuncture almost certainly does not depend on the needle site and has an emotional component (White et al., 2008). "

    10/2014; 2(5):181-189. DOI:10.12691/ajssm-2-5-2
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    • "Acupuncture analgesia is modulated by various transmitters, notably endogenous opioids, serotonin and noradrenaline [22,23]. Acupuncture activates the ‘pain matrix’ - areas of the brain that have been shown to be consistently activated by noxious stimuli [24] - which includes the insula, an area that may be involved in the hot flush mechanism [25,26]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Hot flushes and night sweats (vasomotor symptoms) are common menopausal symptoms, often causing distress, sleep deprivation and reduced quality of life. Although hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment, there are concerns about serious adverse events. Non-hormonal pharmacological therapies are less effective and can also cause adverse effects. Complementary therapies, including acupuncture, are commonly used for menopausal vasomotor symptoms. While the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating vasomotor symptoms is inconclusive, acupuncture has a low risk of adverse effects, and two small studies suggest it may be more effective than non-insertive sham acupuncture. Our objective is to assess the efficacy of needle acupuncture in improving hot flush severity and frequency in menopausal women. Our current study design is informed by methods tested in a pilot study. Methods/design This is a stratified, parallel, randomised sham-controlled trial with equal allocation of participants to two trial groups. We are recruiting 360 menopausal women experiencing a minimum average of seven moderate hot flushes a day over a seven-day period and who meet diagnostic criteria for the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis of Kidney Yin deficiency. Exclusion criteria include breast cancer, surgical menopause, and current hormone replacement therapy use. Eligible women are randomised to receive either true needle acupuncture or sham acupuncture with non-insertive (blunt) needles for ten treatments over eight weeks. Participants are blinded to treatment allocation. Interventions are provided by Chinese medicine acupuncturists who have received specific training on trial procedures. The primary outcome measure is hot flush score, assessed using the validated Hot Flush Diary. Secondary outcome measures include health-related quality of life, anxiety and depression symptoms, credibility of the sham treatment, expectancy and beliefs about acupuncture, and adverse events. Participants will be analysed in the groups in which they were randomised using an intention-to-treat analysis strategy. Discussion Results from this trial will significantly add to the current body of evidence on the role of acupuncture for vasomotor symptoms. If found to be effective and safe, acupuncture will be a valuable additional treatment option for women who experience menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000393954 11/02/2009.
    Trials 06/2014; 15(1):224. DOI:10.1186/1745-6215-15-224 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    • "We tested Likert scales reflecting degree of endorsement. Responses included: strongly disagree; moderately disagree; a little disagree; neither agree nor disagree; a little agree; moderately agree; strongly agree (used by [33,34] and more recently by Younger et al. [15]. To test this set of responses, we adapted four items from Mao’s validated “Acupuncture Expectancy Scale” expectations of acupuncture [35,36] (Mao)a: 1) “my pain will improve a lot”; 2) “I will be better able to cope with my pain”; 3) “my pain will go away”; and 4) “my energy level will improve”. "
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    ABSTRACT: No consistent relationship exists between pre-treatment expectations and therapeutic benefit from various complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in clinical trials. However, many different expectancy measures have been used in those studies, with no validated questionnaires clearly focused on CAM and pain. We undertook cognitive interviews as part of a process to develop and validate such a questionnaire. We reviewed questions about expectations of benefits of acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, or yoga for pain. Components of the questions - verbs, nouns, response options, terms and phrases describing back pain - were identified. Using seven different cognitive interview scripts, we conducted 39 interviews to evaluate how individuals with chronic low back pain understood these individual components in the context of expectancy questions for a therapy they had not yet received. Chosen items were those with the greatest agreement and least confusion among participants, and were closest to the meanings intended by the investigators. The questionnaire drafted for psychometric evaluation had 18 items covering various domains of expectancy. "Back pain" was the most consistently interpreted descriptor for this condition. The most understandable response options were 0-10 scales, a structure used throughout the questionnaire, with 0 always indicating no change, and 10 anchored with an absolute descriptor such as "complete relief". The use of words to describe midpoints was found to be confusing. The word "expect" held different and shifting meanings for participants. Thus paired items comparing "hope" and "realistically expect" were chosen to evaluate 5 different aspects of treatment expectations (back pain; back dysfunction and global effects; impact of back pain on specific areas of life; sleep, mood, and energy; coping). "Impact of back pain" on various areas of life was found to be a consistently meaningful concept, and more global than "interference". Cognitive interviews identified wordings with considerable agreement among both participants and investigators. Some items widely used in clinical studies had different meanings to participants than investigators, or were confusing to participants. The final 18-item questionnaire is undergoing psychometric evaluation with goals of streamlining as well as identifying best items for use when questionnaire length is constrained.
    BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 01/2014; 14(1):39. DOI:10.1186/1472-6882-14-39 · 2.02 Impact Factor
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