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Med Acupunct. 2019 Apr 1;31(2):116-122. doi: 10.1089/acu.2018.1329. Epub 2019 Apr 15.

An Observational Study on Acupuncture for Earthquake-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Experience of the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World, in Amatrice, Central Italy.

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Department of Acupuncture, Medical Association of Lombard Acupuncture, Medical Doctors, Milan, Italy.
Department of Acupuncture, Acupuncture in the World, Milan, Italy.
School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Milan, Italy.


Background and Objective: Earthquakes are associated with severe psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Current first-line therapies for PTSD have well-known side-effects. Acupuncture is a complementary approach to help patients cope with mental problems after natural disasters and public health events. This article describes an acupuncture intervention conducted by the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World in the earthquake-stricken area of Amatrice in Central Italy and measures the effect of acupuncture on earthquake-related pain and psychologic symptoms in the victims. Methods: The intervention lasted 5 weeks, from September to October 2016. Adult patients with psychologic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain were included. Treatments were performed by experienced medical acupuncturists. A verbal/numerical scale was developed to quantify the effect of intervention. A Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used for comparison of the scores before and after the acupuncture treatment. Results: Of the patients, 68.3% reported having both pain and psychologic symptoms. The most frequently used meridian points were Kidney (13.17%), followed by Large Intestine (12.46%), Spleen (12.04%) and Gall Bladder (10.34%). After 3 treatments performed in daily sessions, 54.05% and 60.6% of patients reported marked improvements in psychologic and pain symptoms, respectively. Statistical analysis showed a significant difference between the scores reported before the first treatment and after the third treatment, both for pain (P = 0.000) and psychologic symptoms (P = 0.000). No serious adverse events were reported. Conclusions: These results suggest that acupuncture could be a useful tool for reducing pain and psychologic symptoms related to earthquakes, but further research is required in this specific area.


acupuncture; earthquake; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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