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Cochrane reviews of acupuncture for pain conditions are outdated, and do not reflect the current evidence base, concludes an article co-authored by US acupuncture researcher Arya Nielsen. In a 'snapshot' overview of 22 relevant Cochrane reviews, the authors identified some which concluded that acupuncture is useful for treating specific pain conditions. However, many conditions for which acupuncture is most commonly used, including knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and neck pain, are either not represented in Cochrane reviews at all, or are present only in reviews that are more than a decade old. The authors suggest that the potential confusion created is problematic for clinicians and patients wanting clarification on safe, effective, evidence-based options to treat pain. This is particularly important in the context of the ongoing opioid epidemic, given the prevalence of chronic pain and the risks of adverse effects and addiction associated with pain medications.

Cochrane reviews on acupuncture therapy for pain: A snapshot of the current evidence. Explore (NY). 2019 Nov - Dec;15(6):434-439.