This study aimed to assess the efficacy of acupuncture in patients with herpes zoster (HZ) based on current randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
Five databases were screened for RCTs published until August 2019. Studies that assessed the efficacy of acupuncture when used as an independent intervention for HZ were included. The outcomes of interest were pain intensity, as assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS), incrustation time, decrustation time, and incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
In total, 21 RCTs were included in this research. Compared with antiviral therapy, acupuncture was associated with a reduction in VAS score by 16.13, incrustation time by 1.86 days, decrustation time by 2.19 days, and incidence of PHN by 83%. According to a meta-regression analysis, the main sources of heterogeneity were sample size and duration of treatment. There was no publication bias except on decrustation time. A sensitivity analysis showed that the outcomes were relatively stable and reliable.
Acupuncture may be effective for patients with HZ. Nevertheless, this finding should be validated by conducting high-quality trials with a larger sample size.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.