Acupuncture, an ancient form of medicine that originated in China several thousand years ago, has been used by Canadian physicians since the 1970s. Research on the neurophysiology of acupuncture analgesia supports the theory that it is mediated primarily via the selective release in the central nervous system of neuropeptides. Evidence of its anti-inflammatory effects is emerging. Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials provide evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. Applications of electroacupuncture using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can provide good pain relief via home treatment and make management of cancer pain using acupuncture knowledge realistic.
Key words: acupuncture, pain, TENS, endorphin, anti-inflammation.