Treatment of persistent hiccups after arthroplasty: effects of acupuncture at PC6, CV12 and ST36

Acupunct Med. 2019 Feb;37(1):72-76. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2016-011304. Epub 2019 Mar 7.


Objective: There are multiple treatment options for hiccups, including non-pharmacological therapies, but little evidence of superiority of one treatment over another. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of acupuncture on persistent hiccups after arthroplasty.

Methods: From April 2010 to December 2015, 15 patients with primary unilateral total hip/knee arthroplasty were diagnosed with persistent hiccups and given acupuncture at PC6, CV12 and ST36. Each acupuncture session lasted 30 min. The total number of treatment sessions was determined by the persistence of symptoms, but acupuncture was administered no more than three times over the course of a week. The hiccups assessment instrument (HAI) was used to assess the severity of hiccups pre-treatment and post-treatment. Adverse events were also recorded.

Results: Absolute resolution was observed in all 15 patients after less than three acupuncture sessions. Of these, 10 patients required only one acupuncture session, 3 patients required two sessions and 2 patients required three sessions. The HAI score improved after each round of acupuncture treatment (P<0.05). The average HAI score improved significantly post-acupuncture compared to baseline values pre-treatment (P<0.05). Symptoms accompanying the hiccups included pain in the diaphragmatic area (five patients), mild dyspnoea (three patients), dysphagia (two patients) and nausea/vomiting (one patient). All these accompanying symptoms disappeared at the point of resolution of the hiccups. There were no adverse effects related to acupuncture during the study period.

Conclusion: Based on our results, acupuncture may represent a potential treatment option for hiccups after arthroplasty. Caution must be exercised, however, given the lack of a control group. Accordingly, randomised controlled trials will be required to verify the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of hiccups.

Keywords: acupuncture; arthroplasty; hiccups assessment instrument; observation; persistent hiccups.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hiccup / etiology
  • Hiccup / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome