Acute episodes of pain associated with sickle cell disease (SCD) account for over 100,000 hospitalizations and expenses of nearly 1 billion dollars annually in the United States. New treatment approaches are needed as the current opioid based therapy is often inadequate in controlling pain, resulting in prolonged inpatient stays and high rates of readmission.
To evaluate acceptability of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy and explore the impact of acupuncture on pain related outcomes in a population of youth with SCD hospitalized for management of acute pain.
This IRB approved single center study recruited youth with SCD (9-20 years) who were hospitalized for management of acute pain into either the acupuncture group or controls. Both groups also received standard pain management therapies.
Participants in the acupuncture (n=19) and control (n=10) group were comparable in clinical characteristics. Acupuncture had an acceptability rate of over 66% and was tolerated well without any side effects. Acupuncture was associated with reduction in pain scores (6.84 to 5.51; p<0.0001). Acupuncture group demonstrated a trend toward lower length of stay and readmission rates, but these were not statistically significant. Opioid use was not different between the groups. Treatment Evaluation Inventory survey showed high rates of satisfaction with acupuncture.
Acupuncture was broadly accepted and well-tolerated in our study population. Acupuncture treatment was associated with a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in pain scores immediately following the treatments, and a trend towards a reduction in length of stay and readmission for pain.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.