Cost Effectiveness of Acupuncture

Acupuncture Treatment Results in the Avoidance of Surgery
29 patients with severe osteoarthritis of the knee, each awaiting arthroplasty surgery, were randomized to receive a course of acupuncture treatment or be placed on a waiting list to receive similar acupuncture treatment starting 9 weeks later. Of the 29 patients, 7 were able to cancel their scheduled surgeries.
Cost savings: $9,000 per patient.
Christensen BV et al (1992) “Acupuncture treatment of severe knee osteoarthrosis: a long-term study”, Acta Anesthesiol Scand 36:519-525.

Acupuncture Treatment Results In Decreased Days In Hospital Or Nursing Home
Half of 78 stroke patients receiving standard rehabilitative care were randomly chosen to receive adjunctive acupuncture treatment. Patients given acupuncture recovered faster and to a greater extent, spending 88 days/patient in hospital and nursing homes compared to 161 days/patient for standard care alone.
Cost savings: $26,000 per patient.
Johansson K et al (1994), “Can sensory stimulation improve the functional outcome in stroke patients?”, Neurology 43:2189-2192.

Acupuncture Treatment Allows Low-Back Pain Patients To Return To Physical Labor
56 patients at a workers’ compensation clinic were randomized to receive either physical therapy/ occupational therapy/exercise or the standard care plus acupuncture. Of the 29 treated with acupuncture, 18 returned to their original or equivalent jobs and 10 returned to lighter employment. Of the 27 who received only standard therapy, 4 returned to original or equivalent jobs and 14 to lighter employment.
Gunn CC et al (1980), “Dry needling of muscle motor points for chronic low-back pain”, Spine 5:279-291

Acupuncture Treatment Results In Avoidance Of Surgery, Fewer Hospital Visits And Greater Return To Employment
69 patients with severe angina pectoris received 12 acupuncture treatments in 4 weeks. Patients were also instructed to perform shiatsu 2x/day and received counseling in stress reduction, exercise and diet. Of the 49 patients who were candidates for coronary bypass or balloon angioplasty surgery, 30 had surgery postponed by the 2-year follow-up due to clinical improvement.
Cost savings: $13,000 per patient. Decrease in number of in-hospital days for all 69 patients: 79% first year post-treatment, 95% 2nd year post-treatment. Reduction in number of out-patient visits: 60% and 87% respectively. Estimated additional cost savings from increase in percent of patients able to work: 11% prior to treatment; 60% at 2 years post-treatment. Estimated savings in annual sick-pay: $18,000/patient.
Ballegaard S et al (1996) “Cost-benefit of combined use of acupuncture, shiatsu and lifestyle adjustment for treatment of patients with severe angina pectoris”, Acupunct Electro-Ther Res 21:187-197.

Reduction in Days of Missed Work Due to Migraine 
One hundred twenty patients with migraine without aura were randomly assigned to an acupuncture group (AG) or a conventional drug therapy group. AG patients received acupuncture twice a week for a maximum of thirty treatments. Four sites in Italy, two hospital and two university public centers provided the acupuncture, the two university sites also provided the pharmacological therapy, Severity and frequency of headache and days of missed work were evaluated 12 months after admission. The AG had an absence rate of 1120 working days per year while the drug therapy group a had a total absence rate of 1404 working days per year.
Cost savings: $35,480 per year for the sixty patients receiving acupuncture compared to those in conventional drug therapy.
Liguori A et al (2000) Comparison of pharmacological treatment versus acupuncture treatment for migraine without aura, J Trad Chin Med 20:231-240

Acupuncture Treatment of Angina Pectoris Saves Money
One hundred five patients with angina pectoris had acupuncture and self-care education added to their pharmaceutical treatment. Seventy-three participants had been recommended for invasive procedures. The treatment protocol consisted of 12 visits over a four-week period that included an acupuncture treatment and an education session. A 90% reduction in hospitalization and a 70% reduction in surgery resulted.
Cost savings: $32,000 per patient.
Ballegaard S et al (1999) Addition of acupuncture and self-care education in the treatment of patients with severe angina pectoris may be cost beneficial: An open, prospective study, J Altern Complement Med 5: 405-413.