Comparison of Efficacy of Acupuncture-Related Therapy in the Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia: A Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022 Oct 14;2022:3975389. doi: 10.1155/2022/3975389. eCollection 2022.


Background: Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common sequela of herpes zoster, and the efficacy of the treatment regimens recommended in the guidelines is not entirely reliable. Acupuncture and moxibustion are widely used complementary alternative therapies that have a positive effect on the treatment of PHN. However, there are various forms of acupuncture and moxibustion, and there are differences in efficacy between the different forms.

Methods: The retrieval work of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture for PHN in English databases (including PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science) and Chinese databases (including China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), WeiPu database, WanFang database, and China Biomedical Literature Database) were conducted from the time of database creation to June 2022. Literature screening, data extraction, and evaluation of risk of bias for the included studies were carried out independently by two researchers, and data analysis was performed using Stata 14.2 software.

Results: A total of 30 RCTs including 2138 patients with PHN were included. In terms of pain improvement, acupoint embedding + Western medicine group, bloodletting-cupping group, and bloodletting-cupping + Western medicine group ranked top. In terms of total efficiency, acupuncture + Western medicine group, bloodletting-cupping + Western medicine group, and acupoint embedding group ranked top. There were no statistically significant differences in the incidence of adverse events between treatment regimens.

Conclusions: In a comprehensive comparison of the outcome indicators of 14 different treatment regimens, we considered acupoint injection + Western medicine and bloodletting-cupping + Western medicine to be the best combinations for the treatment of PHN. Due to the limitations of the study, the above conclusions still need to be validated in further multi-centre, large-sample prospective randomised controlled clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Review