Commonly Treated Conditions With Acupuncture

Commonly treated conditions with Acupuncture

Acupuncture has a long history of being used to treat many conditions; however, research into its effectiveness and cost effectiveness is in its relative infancy. The first significant attempt to identify the evidence validating the role of acupuncture was undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1979 (1). WHO conducted a Delphi-like symposium in Beijing in 1979 where physicians from around the world identified 43 diseases which they believed Acupuncture may benefit (1). The 1979 report was criticised because it was not based on clinical trials, rather the clinical experience of the participants (1).


The 2016 Acupuncture Evidence project is an Australian literature review  which reviewed the published meta-analysis and systematic reviews of 122 conditions. It identified 47 conditions, 8 with strong evidence and 38 with moderate evidence, supporting the use of Acupuncture (1). So here are the findings;

List 1; Conditions with Strong evidence of the effectiveness of Acupuncture in the treatment of, that is Moderate to high evidence (1).  

  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Chemotherapy-induced Nausea & Vomiting (with anti-emetics)
  • Chronic Lower Back Pain
  • Headache (tension-type & Chronic)
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Post-opperative nausea & vomiting
  • Post-opperative pain

List 2;  Conditions with moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of Acupuncture. Reviews reporting all individual RCTs or pooled effects across RCTs as positive, but the reviewers deeming the evidence insufficient to draw firm conclusions. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality (1).

  • Acute low back pain
  • Acute stroke
  • Ambulatory Anaesthesia
  • Anxiety
  • Aromatase-inhibitor-induced arthralgia
  • Asthma in adults
  • Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy
  • Cancer pain
  • Cancer related fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Craniotomy anaesthesia
  • Depression (with anti-depressants)
  • Dry eye
  • Hypertension (with medication)
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Labour pain
  • Lateral elbow pain
  • Menopausal hot flushes
  • Modulating sensory perception thresholds
  • Neck pain
  • Obesity
  • Perimenopausal & postmenopausal insomnia
  • Plantar heel pain
  • Post-stroke insomnia
  • Post-stroke shoulder pain
  • Post-stroke spasticity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome
  • Recovery after colorectal cancer resection
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Schizophrenia (with antipsychotics)
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome (early stage) (with exercise)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Smoking cessation (up to 3 months)
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Temporomandibular pain


  1. McDonald, John & Janz, Stephen. (2016). The Acupuncture Evidence Project : A Comparative Literature Review (Revised). Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, Coorparoo
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