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      Research Trends from 2010 to 2020 for Pain Treatment with Acupuncture: A Bibliometric Analysis

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          Abstract

          Background

          Given that acupuncture treatment for pain has gradually been accepted by researchers from various countries. However, few bibliometric analyses have been performed on the published articles. The objective of this research was to review its application for pain in recent 10 years and analyze, demonstrate and evaluate the trends, major research hotspots and frontier areas.

          Methods

          The Web of Science retrieved literature from 2010 to 2020 on acupuncture for pain. The CiteSpace and Excel were used to analyze annual volumes of publications, journals, cited journals, countries, institutions, authors, cited authors, references and keywords and to draw collaborative networks and reference co-citation network maps.

          Results

          The search finally included 4227 related studies. Results show that the number of annual publications has been increasing gradually. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (366) was the most productive journal, while Pain (2270/0.04) ranked first in terms of frequency and centrality of cited journals, respectively. Among countries/institutions, the China (1252) and the Kyung Hee University (228) ranked first. Lee MS (51 articles) was the most effective author while MacPherson H (577) was the most cited author. The most frequently cited reference was a systematic review of individual patient data on acupuncture for chronic pain (322). “Burden” was identified as a frontier research item for 2017–2020.

          Conclusion

          This study provides a new and in-depth understanding of current acupuncture used for the treatment of pain. We anticipate that this study will stimulate international cooperation among research teams to advance the field.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia.

           Zhi-Qi Zhao (2008)
          Acupuncture has been accepted to effectively treat chronic pain by inserting needles into the specific "acupuncture points" (acupoints) on the patient's body. During the last decades, our understanding of how the brain processes acupuncture analgesia has undergone considerable development. Acupuncture analgesia is manifested only when the intricate feeling (soreness, numbness, heaviness and distension) of acupuncture in patients occurs following acupuncture manipulation. Manual acupuncture (MA) is the insertion of an acupuncture needle into acupoint followed by the twisting of the needle up and down by hand. In MA, all types of afferent fibers (Abeta, Adelta and C) are activated. In electrical acupuncture (EA), a stimulating current via the inserted needle is delivered to acupoints. Electrical current intense enough to excite Abeta- and part of Adelta-fibers can induce an analgesic effect. Acupuncture signals ascend mainly through the spinal ventrolateral funiculus to the brain. Many brain nuclei composing a complicated network are involved in processing acupuncture analgesia, including the nucleus raphe magnus (NRM), periaqueductal grey (PAG), locus coeruleus, arcuate nucleus (Arc), preoptic area, nucleus submedius, habenular nucleus, accumbens nucleus, caudate nucleus, septal area, amygdale, etc. Acupuncture analgesia is essentially a manifestation of integrative processes at different levels in the CNS between afferent impulses from pain regions and impulses from acupoints. In the last decade, profound studies on neural mechanisms underlying acupuncture analgesia predominately focus on cellular and molecular substrate and functional brain imaging and have developed rapidly. Diverse signal molecules contribute to mediating acupuncture analgesia, such as opioid peptides (mu-, delta- and kappa-receptors), glutamate (NMDA and AMPA/KA receptors), 5-hydroxytryptamine, and cholecystokinin octapeptide. Among these, the opioid peptides and their receptors in Arc-PAG-NRM-spinal dorsal horn pathway play a pivotal role in mediating acupuncture analgesia. The release of opioid peptides evoked by electroacupuncture is frequency-dependent. EA at 2 and 100Hz produces release of enkephalin and dynorphin in the spinal cord, respectively. CCK-8 antagonizes acupuncture analgesia. The individual differences of acupuncture analgesia are associated with inherited genetic factors and the density of CCK receptors. The brain regions associated with acupuncture analgesia identified in animal experiments were confirmed and further explored in the human brain by means of functional imaging. EA analgesia is likely associated with its counter-regulation to spinal glial activation. PTX-sesntive Gi/o protein- and MAP kinase-mediated signal pathways as well as the downstream events NF-kappaB, c-fos and c-jun play important roles in EA analgesia.
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            A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain.

            Acupuncture is a popular complementary and alternative treatment for chronic back pain. Recent European trials suggest similar short-term benefits from real and sham acupuncture needling. This trial addresses the importance of needle placement and skin penetration in eliciting acupuncture effects for patients with chronic low back pain. A total of 638 adults with chronic mechanical low back pain were randomized to individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, or usual care. Ten treatments were provided over 7 weeks by experienced acupuncturists. The primary outcomes were back-related dysfunction (Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire score; range, 0-23) and symptom bothersomeness (0-10 scale). Outcomes were assessed at baseline and after 8, 26, and 52 weeks. At 8 weeks, mean dysfunction scores for the individualized, standardized, and simulated acupuncture groups improved by 4.4, 4.5, and 4.4 points, respectively, compared with 2.1 points for those receiving usual care (P .05). Although acupuncture was found effective for chronic low back pain, tailoring needling sites to each patient and penetration of the skin appear to be unimportant in eliciting therapeutic benefits. These findings raise questions about acupuncture's purported mechanisms of action. It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or nonspecific effects.
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              The economic costs of pain in the United States.

              In 2008, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), about 100 million adults in the United States were affected by chronic pain, including joint pain or arthritis. Pain is costly to the nation because it requires medical treatment and complicates treatment for other ailments. Also, pain lowers worker productivity. Using the 2008 MEPS, we estimated 1) the portion of total U.S. health care costs attributable to pain; and 2) the annual costs of pain associated with lower worker productivity. We found that the total costs ranged from $560 to $635 billion in 2010 dollars. The additional health care costs due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion. This represents an increase in annual per person health care costs ranging from $261 to $300 compared to a base of about $4,250 for persons without pain. The value of lost productivity due to pain ranged from $299 to $335 billion. We found that the annual cost of pain was greater than the annual costs of heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion), and diabetes ($188 billion). Our estimates are conservative because they do not include costs associated with pain for nursing home residents, children, military personnel, and persons who are incarcerated. This study estimates that the national cost of pain ranges from $560 to $635 billion, larger than the cost of the nation's priority health conditions. Because of its economic toll on society, the nation should invest in research, education, and training to advocate the successful treatment, management, and prevention of pain. Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                jpr
                jpainres
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove
                1178-7090
                09 April 2021
                2021
                : 14
                : 941-952
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Acupuncture and Tuina School/The 3rd Teaching Hospital, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Chengdu, Sichuan, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Affiliated Hospital of Shanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Taiyuan, Shanxi, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Graduate Faculty, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Tianjin, People’s Republic of China
                [4 ]Graduate Faculty, Shanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Taiyuan, Shanxi, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Lai-Xi Ji Shanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Taiyuan, Shanxi, People’s Republic of ChinaTel +86 13509714277 Email tyjilaixi@126.com
                Article
                300911
                10.2147/JPR.S300911
                8043846
                © 2021 Gao et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 16, References: 19, Pages: 12
                Funding
                Funded by: National Natural Science Foundation of China, open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100001809;
                Funded by: National Science and Technology Support Program of the ministry of science and technology of China;
                This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 81673887), the National Science and Technology Support Program of the ministry of science and technology of China (2013BAI05B00), the Science and technology innovation capacity cultivation project of Shanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (2020PY-LP-03). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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