Perioperative Auricular Electroacupuncture Has No Effect on Pain and Analgesic Consumption After Third Molar Tooth Extraction

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Auricular acupuncture (AA) has been shown to alleviate acute and chronic pain. We investigated the effects of auricular electroacupuncture (AE) on pain and analgesic drug consumption in the first 48 h after unilateral mandibular third molar tooth extraction under local anesthesia in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 149 patients.


Patients received either AA with electrical stimulation (AE, n = 76) or without (AA, n = 37) electrical stimulation at an alternating frequency of 2/100 Hz or a sham AE with metal plates instead of needles and no electrical stimulation, no-needle (NN, n = 36) at the AA points 1 (tooth), 55 (Shen men) and 84 (mouth) during the entire study period. Regularly rated pain intensity (five-point verbal rating scale), consumption of acetaminophen 500 mg tablets and additional rescue medication with mefenamic acid 500 mg were assessed.


The median fraction of time when pain was rated as moderate or worse (upper and lower quartile): AE: 33% (12%, 64%), AA: 22% (6%, 56%), NN: 30% (7%, 53%) did not differ significantly among the treatment groups. There were no significant differences in mean number of acetaminophen 500 mg tablets (range): AE: 5.2 (0–12), AA: 4.6 (0–11), NN: 5.4 (0–10) or percentage of patients requiring additional mefenamic acid: AE: 19%, AA: 18%, NN: 19%.


We conclude that neither AE nor AA alone reduce either pain intensity or analgesic consumption in a molar tooth extraction model of acute pain.

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