Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Peripheral Neuropathic Pain: A Frequentist Network Meta-Analysis and Cost-Effectiveness Evaluation

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022 Mar 16;2022:6886465. doi: 10.1155/2022/6886465. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: Acupuncture and moxibustion techniques have been increasingly used to treat peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP). However, there is a paucity of comparative information and cost-effectiveness assessment for techniques on PNP management. Patients and Methods. Randomized controlled trials studying the acupuncture or moxibustion treatments on PNP were identified from electronic databases. The quality of the included studies and the potential risk of bias was evaluated using the ROB 2.0 assessment tool. The primary outcome was at least 20% pain relief. The treatment effects were pooled through a frequentist-based network meta approach. Subsequently, the cost-effectiveness measured by incremental cost per additional responder (ICPR) was calculated.

Results: One three-arm trial and 15 two-arm trials comprising 1308 participants that satisfy the eligibility criteria were identified. Among the included studies, 12.5% were at low risk of bias, 68.75% had some concerns about the risk of bias, and 18.75% were at high risk of bias. The major sources of bias originated from the randomization processes of the studies. The patients were assigned to seven different acupuncture or moxibustion interventions and two pharmaceutical treatments. Except for acupoint injection, all the included acupuncture and moxibustion techniques showed superior improvements in PNP and were more cost-effective as compared to pharmaceutical treatments. Warm needling, fire needling, and moxibustion were the most effective treatments. Fire needling showed the lowest ICPR relative to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the cost-effectiveness analysis of direct and indirect costs.

Conclusion: Acupuncture and moxibustion techniques are beneficial and cost-effective approaches for easing PNP and hence can be considered for PNP management.

Publication types

  • Review