Focus of the Report: This report focuses on acupuncture (AP) for treatment of allergic rhinitis.

Technology Description: Traditional AP employs thin metal needles to pierce the skin at specific, defined sites. Related treatments involve application of pressure, electrical stimulation (electroAP), or laser energy at the AP sites. In studies of AP for allergic rhinitis, needles were applied at 1 to 7 of 18 primary or basic AP sites. Some practitioners also include needling at ≥ 3 of 34 secondary AP sites. After insertion, needles are usually manipulated by rotation, in-and-out twirling, thrusting, or lifting. For treatment of allergic rhinitis, protocols have involved 3 to 16 sessions of AP treatment in 1 to 3 sessions per week with needles left in place for 5 to 40 minutes per session with no manipulation or up to 4 distinct periods of manipulation during each treatment session.

Controversy: For allergic rhinitis, AP may require 1 to 3 treatments per week performed by a trained specialist and it has not been adequately studied relative to conventional drug therapies that can be self-administered by patients.

Key Questions:

  • Does AP provide relief of allergic rhinitis compared with placebo or no treatment?

  • Is AP effective relative to conventional drug treatment for allergic rhinitis?

  • What is the relative effectiveness of electro AP, laser AP versus traditional AP?

  • Does AP for allergic rhinitis pose any safety issues?

  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been established for use of AP in patients with allergic rhinitis?

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