Another result in favor of the therapeutic utility of acupuncture. This practice has recently been included in the National System – Guidelines of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in the field of pain treatment. A result obtained thanks to a self-financed work that lasted three years and which led to a final document proposed by the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies – FISA, a scientific society accredited by the Ministry of Health and developed with the support of external consultants, including researchers from the Mario Negri IRCCS Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan. The study allowed the synthesis of all the available evidence and the production of the guidelines through the use of the rigorous method Grade methodone tool used to assess the certainty of evidence, make recommendations, and make health decisions.
The summary of the paper reveals a greater effectiveness of acupuncture than drugs in the prophylaxis ofchronic and episodic migraine with a moderate degree of certainty and with a safety profile clearly in favor of acupuncture. Good results also for the nonspecific chronic low back pain compared to combined pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment. The inclusion of acupuncture within the National Guidelines System of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità makes it a therapy that can no longer be ignored in daily medical practice, particularly in the diseases indicated above which have a strong social impact both in terms of patients’ quality of life and related costs. In fact, let’s think of the increase in life expectancy of the population which has as its implication an increase in years lived with disabilities. Patients are often subjected to drug polytherapies and related side effects. The possibility of resorting to non-pharmacological therapies such as acupuncture reduces instead almost zero side effects provided it is performed by suitably trained medical personnel. In addition, numerous published works have highlighted how acupuncture has a favorable cost-effectiveness ratio, an element to be strongly taken into consideration by our decision-makers in health policy even in the face of ever higher costs and scarcity of resources.
The sore point is that the public offer of acupuncture is unfortunately still insufficient and with important inequalities in the distribution between North and South. There are 133 public acupuncture services surveyed by the Ministry of Health and the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies, distributed as follows: 177 in the North, 94 in the Centre, 16 in the South and 11 on the islands.
Migraine and nonspecific chronic low back pain are only the first two pathologies taken into consideration by the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies.
It is the Federation’s intention to implement these guidelines by examining theeffectiveness of acupuncture not only in other painful pathologies, but also in reducing the side effects of oncological therapies (chemotherapy and radiotherapy), where acupuncture has demonstrated potential efficacy and clear safety so much that it is routinely included in integrated oncology departments in major hospitals around the world.
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Acupuncture for pain enters the National System: “More effective than drugs for some pathologies” – Il Fatto Quotidiano
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