Cost Effectiveness of Acupuncture

By Dr. Abrahamson on

Acupuncture Treatment Results in Avoidance of Surgery
29 patients with severe osteoarthritis of the knee, each awaiting arthroplasty surgery, were randomized to receive a course of acupuncture treatments or be placed on a waiting list to receive similar acupuncture treatment starting 9 weeks later. Of the 29 patients, 7 were able to cancel their scheduled surgeries.
Cost savings: $9,000 per patient.

Christensen BV et al (1992) “Acupuncture treatment of severe knee osteoarthritis: a long-term study”,
Acta Anesthesiol Scand 36:519-525

Acupuncture Treatment Results in Decreased Days in Hospital or Nursing Home
Half of 78 stroke patients receiving standard rehabilitative care were randomly chosen to receive adjunctive acupuncture treatment. Patients given acupuncture recovered faster and to a greater extend, spending 88 days per patient in hospital and nursing homes compared to 161 days/patient for standard care alone. Cost savings: $26,000 per patient.

Johansson K et al (1994), “Can sensory stimulation improve the functional outcome in stroke patients?” Neurology 43:2189-2192

Acupuncture Treatment Allows Low-Back Pain Patients to Return to Physical Labor
56 patients at a workers’ compensation clinic were randomized to receive either therapy/occupational therapy/exercise or the standard care plus acupuncture. Of the 29 patients treated with acupuncture, 18 returned to their original or equivalent jobs and 10 returned to lighter employment. Of the 27 who received only standard therapy, 4 returned to original or equivalent jobs and 14 to lighter employment.

Gunn CC et al (1980), “Dry needling of muscle motor points for chronic low-back pain”, Spine 5:279-291

Acupuncture Treatment Results in Avoidance of Surgery, Fewer Hospital Visits and
Greater Return to Employment
69 patients with severe angina pectoris received 12 acupuncture treatments in 4 weeks. Patients were also instructed to perform shiatsu 2x/day and received counseling in stress reduction, exercise and diet. Of the 49 patients who were candidates for coronary bypass or balloon angioplasty surgery, 30 had surgery  stponed by the 2-year follow-up due to clinical improvement.
Cost savings: $13,000 per patient. Decrease in number of in-hospital days for all 69 patients: 79% 1ST year post-treatment, 95% 2ND year post-treatment. Reduction in number of outpatient visits: 60% and 87% respectively. Estimated additional cost savings from increase in percent of patients able to work: 11% prior to treatment; 60% at 2 years post-treatment. Estimated savings in annual sick pay: $18,000/patient.

Ballegaard S et al (1996) “cost-benefit of combined use of acupuncture, shiatsu and lifestyle adjustment for treatment of patients with severe angina pectoris”, Acupuncture Electro-Ther Res 21:187-197


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