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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Jun;266(6):919-25. doi: 10.1007/s00405-008-0851-1. Epub 2008 Nov 4.

Additional use of acupuncture to NSAID effectively reduces post-tonsillectomy pain.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 400, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


Post-tonsillectomy swallowing pain is a common and distressing side effect after tonsillectomy and thus of great clinical interest. Up until now, there is no randomized controlled patient- and observer-blinded study evaluating the efficacy of acupuncture against swallowing pain after tonsillectomy. We therefore compared the potency of specific verum acupuncture points related to a Chinese medical diagnosis in reducing postoperative swallowing pain with non-specific control points on the body as well as a non-acupuncture group who received standard medication only. The standardized pain therapy after tonsillectomy was orally administered nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) (diclofenac 3 x 50 mg oral). The patients (n = 123) treated with NSAID were asked about their acute pain after taking a sip of water between the first and fifth postoperative day. Participants' pain was assessed using visual analog (VAS) [zero (0) for no pain up to ten (10) for the acute reported outset pain] before and 20 min, 1, 2 and 3 h after acupuncture treatment or standard pain medication, respectively. The functional assessment of diagnosis and treatment point-combination occurred by means of the "Heidelberg Model" of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Verum acupuncture lead to a significant additional pain relief. In comparison to the acupuncture, they also reported an average of 3 h duration of adequate pain-relief past taking the NSAID. This trial strongly supports a specific acupuncture scheme for the treatment of postoperative swallowing pain after tonsillectomy. It may particularly serve as an alternative pain treatment in case of NSAID intolerances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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