Effect of Acupuncture on Chronic Pain with Depression: A Systematic Review

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Jun 25;2020:7479459. doi: 10.1155/2020/7479459. eCollection 2020.


Background: Numerous studies suggested that chronic pain and depression were closely related and widespread in the population. When patients have symptoms of chronic pain and depression, the corresponding treatment will become difficult. Acupuncture, a unique therapeutic method of traditional Chinese medicine, has been reported to potentially serve as an alternative treatment for patients with comorbid chronic pain and depression by many research studies.

Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted through the online database, including the Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, SinoMed, CNKI, and Wanfang database. Trials were RCTs published in the English or Chinese language, recruiting participants with chronic pain and depression comorbidity. The primary outcomes were the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD). Statistical analyses were conducted using Review Manager 5.3. Each trail was quality appraised with the five-point Jadad Score.

Results: 7 eligible RCTs involving 535 patients were included. Better therapeutic effect and safety could be observed in the experimental group compared with the control group. There was a significant decrease in the VAS (mean difference (MD) = -0.68 (-1.24, -0.12), P=0.02) and HAMD (MD = -2.18 (-3.09, -1.26), P < 0.00001) scores and the incidence of adverse events between two groups.

Conclusion: In the treatment of chronic pain with depression, acupuncture could not only get better clinical efficacy, but also have higher security compared with medicine therapy, which can be used in patients with poorer response to the conventional medication or suffering from serious side effects.

Publication types

  • Review