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Acupuncture can significantly reduce the need for pain medication during bone marrow transplantation and can reduce postoperative opioid use. American clinicians randomised adults with multiple myeloma undergoing chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to receive either true (TA) or sham acupuncture (SA) once daily for five days starting on the day after chemotherapy. Acupuncture points used were Baihui DU-20, Yintang M-HN-3, and bilateral Neiguan P-6, Zusanli ST-36, Taixi KID-3, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Taichong LIV-3, Shenmen HE-7 and ear Shenmen. Among 60 subjects, the SA group showed greater than five times the odds of increasing pain medication use from baseline compared with TA. All 15 patients in the TA group who were non-users of opioids remained free from opioid use at the end of the study. In contrast, 20% of those in the SA group started to use opioids after chemotherapy and stem cell infusion (day 5) and 40% had become opioid users by day 30 after transplant. Among patients who were taking opioids at baseline, 21% in the TA group versus 30% in the SA group increased their opioid intake at day 30.

Reduction of Opioid Use by Acupuncture in Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized, Sham-Controlled Trial. Pain Med. 2019 Sep 9