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NHS spends £25m a year despite no strong evidence

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NHS

Experts debate whether acupuncture can relieve chronic pain

"The NHS spends £25 million on acupuncture each year despite experts saying there is 'insufficient' evidence it helps fight pain," reports the Mail Online.

This is arguably quite a one-sided headline as it has been prompted by two opinion pieces in the peer-reviewed BMJ, in which a supporter of acupuncture, and two critics of the practice, argue their respective cases.

One researcher from the British Medical Acupuncture Society feels acupuncture is a safe alternative to drugs and is under-researched because of a lack of commercial interest. However, two researchers from the University of Southern Denmark argue there is no convincing evidence of clinical benefit and, because of this, potential risks of the procedure and health services costs are unjustified.

To summarise, evidence outlining the benefits of acupuncture does exist, but it is not strong evidence. There are also concerns the positive effects found in acupuncture research are only small and, arguably, due to a placebo effect.

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