Acupuncture Conclusively
Shown To Reduce Pain
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Acupuncture relieves pain and a scan of brain activity proves it, researchers said on Wednesday.
Doctors at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey induced pain in 12 subjects by using a filament to touch their upper lips, then detected the associated increases in brain activity with a magnetic resonance imaging device.
As the subjects' pain was relieved with acupuncture needles placed between thumb and forefinger, images taken of their brains showed the activity diminishing.
The pain-induced activity subsided in 60 percent to 70 percent of the entire brain during treatment with acupuncture needles, the researchers said.
``We're using a new technology to understand how this 2,500-year-old technique works,'' study co-author Huey-Jen Lee said.
The rise in brain activity, which is based on an increase in blood flow, was seen in the parietal area, the sensory center of the brain, and the brain stem. But each subject exhibited differences in where brain activity increased.
``So many people with pain, whether from cancer, headache or a chronic, unexplained condition, rely on medications, such as morphine, which can become addicting,'' Huey-Jen Lee said. ''Acupuncture has no side effects, and other studies have shown the pain relief it provides can last for months.''
The researchers presented their findings to the Radiological Society of North America, meeting in Chicago.


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