NICE helps practitioners and commissioners get the best care to patients, fast, while ensuring value for the taxpayer. Internationally, NICE has a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy. But is that also true for its recommendations regarding the use of acupuncture? NICE currently recommends that patients consider acupuncture as a treatment option for the following conditions:

Confusingly, on a different site, NICE also recommends acupuncture for retinal migraine, a very specific type of migraine that affect normally just one eye with symptoms such as vision loss lasting up to one hour, a blind spot in the vision, headache, blurred vision and seeing flashing lights, zigzag patterns or coloured spots or lines, as well as feeling nauseous or being sick.

I think this perplexing situation merits a look at the evidence. Here I quote the conclusions of recent, good quality, and (where possible) independent reviews:

So, what do we make of this? I think that, on the basis of the evidence:

  • a positive recommendation for all types of chromic pain is not warranted;
  • a positive recommendation for the treatment of TTH is questionable;
  • a positive recommendation for migraine is questionable;
  • a positive recommendation for prostatitis is questionable;
  • a positive recommendation for hiccups is not warranted;
  • a positive recommendation for retinal migraine is not warranted.

But why did NICE issue positive recommendations despite weak or even non-existent evidence?





4 Responses to The current recommendations for acupuncture by NICE

  • This NICE recommendation is a disgrace.

    ‘Acupuncture’ consists of two elements:
    (i) Dermal needling.
    (ii) Induction of placebo responses.

    I know of no evidence whatsoever, that should be accepted by any scientific body, that (i) applies and has any effect.
    For sure (ii), and TLC of all sorts, is appreciated by patients – but that does not make ‘acupuncture’ worthy of any recommendation.

    Instead of using the Latin for ‘puncturing with a needle’, we should all refer to the practice using the Greek word for a ‘surgeon’s needle’ ( belone-). and call this therapy what it it: ‘Belonetherapy’.

  • I have wondered about the Nice guidelines for some time. They do not recommend for LBP but there is a recommendation for Chronic pain. How do we challenge NICE because legitimacy fron NICE encourages acupuncture in private sector

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new blog posts by email.

Recent Comments

Note that comments can be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted but you must tick the box: “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

The most recent comments from all posts can be seen here.