Objective: This study aimed to examine the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Methods: English, Chinese, and Korean electronic databases were searched up to June 2016. Randomized con- trolled trials (RCTs) were eligible. The methodological quality was assessed using Cochrane’s risk of bias tool. Meta-analysis was performed using RevMan 5.3.
Results: In total, 42 studies involving 2625 participants were systematically reviewed. Participants treated using combined acupuncture and conventional medication (CM) showed significant improvements in total Unified PD Rating Scale (UPDRS), UPDRS I, UPDRS II, UPDRS III, and the Webster scale compared to those treated using CM alone. The combination of electroacupuncture and CM was significantly superior to CM alone in total UPDRS, UPDRS I, UPDRS II, and UPDRS IV. Similarly, the combination of scalp electroacupuncture, acupuncture, and CM was significantly more effective than CM alone in total UPDRS. However, our meta-analysis showed that the combination of electroacupuncture and CM was not significantly more effective than CM alone in UPDRS III, the Webster, and the Tension Assessment Scale. The results also failed to show that acupuncture was significantly more effective than placebo acupuncture in total UPDRS. Overall, the methodological quality of the RCTs was low. No serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusions: We found that acupuncture might be a safe and useful adjunctive treatment for patients with PD. However, because of methodological flaws in the included studies, conclusive evidence is still lacking. More rigorous and well-designed placebo-controlled trials should be conducted.
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