This study evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment on postoperative pain in patients with degenerative lumbar spine disease, and explored the relationship between the postoperative analgesic effect of acupuncture and the sensation of acupuncture experienced by the patients.
This retrospective study analyzed the medical records of 97 patients who had undergone an operation by the same surgeon due to degenerative lumbar disease. These patients were divided into acupuncture group (n = 32), patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) group (n = 27), and oral analgesia group (n = 38) according to the different postoperative analgesic methods. During their hospitalization, patients completed daily evaluations of their pain using a visual analogue scale (VAS), and injection times of supplemental meperidine were recorded. Also, the Chinese version of the Massachusetts General Hospital Acupuncture Sensation Scale (C-MASS) was used in the acupuncture group.
Each of the three treatment groups showed significant reductions in postoperative pain, as shown by reduced VAS scores. The acupuncture group, however, had less rebound pain (P < 0.05) than the other two groups. Both the acupuncture and PCA groups experienced acute analgesic effects that were superior to those in the oral analgesia group. In addition, the higher the C-MASS index on the second day after surgery, the lower the VAS score on the fourth day after surgery. There was also a significant difference in the "dull pain" in the acupuncture sensation.
The results demonstrated that acupuncture was beneficial for postoperative pain and discomfort after simple surgery for degenerative spinal disease. It is worth noting that there was a disproportionate relevance between the patient’s acupuncture sensation and the improvement of pain VAS score.

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