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Auricular acupressure to relieve OA pain?

A picture of the left ear.

Researchers studied if auricular acupressure could work as pain relief in osteoarthritis patients at 65 years old or older. In the study, researchers also investigated the participants' sleep quality. All the participants were 65 years old or more and lived in nursing homes in Korea. 

There is a link between osteoarthritis pain and poor sleep. According to the study, sleep quality in people without osteoarthritis is better than in people with osteoarthritis. To confirm that sleep quality increased during treatment with auricular acupressure, they did several tests before and after the treatment period, for example, they took blood samples to look at the melatonin levels. They also did a Korean version of PSQI, a scale where sleep quality evaluates from a certain number of questions.

They evaluated the pain with VAS and compared the results from before treatment with results after treatment. According to results from when patients had to grade their pain with VAS, it showed that the pain decreased in those who received auricular acupressure in the correct spots compared to those who participated in the control group where the pain did not go down as much. The researchers mean that auricular acupressure is a treatment that the participants can do easily on their own with some help from the staff at the nursing home. According to the researchers, this makes it easier to follow the plan and do the acupressure as often as recommended. Being able to participate in one's own care is very good since this frequently is a goal in health care, to make the patients as involved as possible. 

This study had quite a few participants, 52 individuals. They got divided into two groups, one group was the control group, and the other one was the study group. Both groups did auricular acupressure but in different parts of the ear. The control group did it on some parts of the ear, and the study group received other parts of the ear, which were actually the ones studied. 

Furthermore, the researchers tell us that the participants got to report their own result and that this is something to keep in mind when reading the study. They also suggest more research in the field to be able to confirm the result which here shows that auricular acupressure could be used as a treatment alternative to increase sleep quality and decrease pain in patients with osteoarthritis. 


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