Research on acupuncture for painful conditions:

Cochrane reviews:

Migraine:

“…there is consistent evidence that acupuncture provides additional benefit to treatment of acute migraine attacks only or to routine care. There is no evidence for an effect of 'true' acupuncture over sham interventions, though this is difficult to interpret, as exact point location could be of limited importance. Available studies suggest that acupuncture is at least as effective as, or possibly more effective than, prophylactic drug treatment, and has fewer adverse effects. Acupuncture should be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment.” 
[Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub2]
 

Tension Headaches:

“…the authors conclude that acupuncture could be a valuable non-pharmacological tool in patients with frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches.”
[Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007587. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587]
 

Neck tension and arm pain:

“There is moderate evidence that those who received acupuncture reported less pain at short term follow-up than those on a waiting list. There is also moderate evidence that acupuncture is more effective than inactive treatments for relieving pain post-treatment and this is maintained at short-term follow-up.”
[Trinh K, Graham N, Gross A, Goldsmith CH, Wang E, Cameron ID, Kay TM, Cervical Overview Group . Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004870. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004870.pub3]
 

Low Back Pain:

"The data suggest that acupuncture and dry-needling may be useful adjuncts to other therapies for chronic low-back pain."
[Furlan AD, van Tulder MW, Cherkin D, Tsukayama H, Lao L, Koes BW, Berman BM. Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001351. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001351.pub2]
 

Shoulder pain:

From the little evidence that there is, acupuncture may improve pain and function over the short term (2 to 4 weeks).
[Green S, Buchbinder R, Hetrick SE. Acupuncture for shoulder pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005319. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005319]
 

Period pain (Dysmenorrhoea):

Several trials were assessed. The studies found improvement in pain relieve (placebo control), reduction of menstrual symptoms (for example nausea, back pain) compared with medication and improvement in quality of life (control: usual care). The authors concluded: "Acupuncture may reduce period pain, however there is a need for further well-designed randomised controlled trials."
[Smith CA, Zhu X, He L, Song J. Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD007854. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007854.pub2]
 

Labour pain relief:

“ The review of 13 trials, with data reporting on 1986 women, found that acupuncture or acupressure may help relieve labour pain. Single or limited numbers of trials reported less intense pain, increased satisfaction with pain relief and reduced use of analgesic drugs with acupuncture compared with placebo or usual care. Acupressure also reduced pain intensity."
Smith CA, Collins CT, Crowther CA, Levett KM. Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD009232. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009232
 

Other systematic reviews:

Chronic Pain:

"Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo." [Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; for the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Sep 10:1-10]
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