Acupuncture plus moxibustion for herpes zoster: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Herpes zoster is an acute inflammatory condition which can have a significant impact on quality of life. Antiviral therapies are effective, but do not meet patients' expectations of symptomatic relief. Acupuncture and moxibustion have been used for herpes zoster; this systematic review evaluated their efficacy and safety. Nine English and Chinese databases were searched from their inceptions to March 2016. Randomized controlled trials evaluating the combination of acupuncture plus moxibustion in adult herpes zoster were included. Outcomes included pain intensity and duration, quality of life and adverse events. Meta-analysis was performed using RevMan software (version 5.3). Nine studies (945 participants) were included. Studies were of low to moderate methodological quality based on risk of bias assessment. Pain intensity (visual analogue scale) was lower among those who received acupuncture plus moxibustion compared with pharmacotherapy (one study; MD -8.25 mm, 95% CI -12.36 to -4.14). The clinical significance of this result is yet to be established. Some benefits were seen for other pain and cutaneous outcomes, and global improvement in symptoms. Mild adverse events were reported in the intervention groups. Acupuncture plus moxibustion may improve pain and cutaneous outcomes, although current evidence is limited by the number of studies and methodological shortcomings.