Could electrotherapy and acupuncture be used for post-operative treatment of knee arthroplasty?

In this study, which appeared in JAMA Surgery, researchers from Stanford University statistically analyzed the results of several clinical studies that used non-pharmacological treatments such as electrotherapy and acupuncture to reduce pain after knee replacement surgery. They used the delay or decrease in the use of opioids and analgesics by patients as measures in determining the effectiveness of these postoperative interventions.

  • Thirty-nine randomized clinical trials involving 2, 391 patients were included by the researchers in their meta-analysis.
  • They compared the effects of electrotherapy and acupuncture with other commonly used interventions such as continuous passive motion, preoperative exercise, and cryotherapy, on opioid use and pain improvement.
  • They found clinically significant evidence that electrotherapy and acupuncture can reduce opioid use in patients after surgery.
  • They also found evidence that acupuncture can improve postoperative pain.
  • They found very low-certainty evidence that cryotherapy is capable of reducing opioid consumption or improving pain after knee arthroplasty.
  • Preoperative exercise and continuous passive motion also did not improve pain or reduce opioid consumption in postoperative patients.

Based on statistical evidence, the researchers believe that electrotherapy and acupuncture are the best non-pharmacological interventions for postoperative pain because they can reduce or delay opioid consumption in patients after total knee arthroplasty.

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Journal Reference:

Tedesco D, Gori D, Desai KR, Asch S, Carroll IR, Curtin C, Mcdonald KM, Fantini MP, Hernandez-Boussard T. DRUG-FREE INTERVENTIONS TO REDUCE PAIN OR OPIOID CONSUMPTION AFTER TOTAL KNEE ARTHROPLASTY. JAMA Surgery. 18 October 2017;152(10):e172872. DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.2872

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