A new study from Turkey assessed the analgesic effects of diclofenac (Voltaren), acetaminophen (Paracetamol), and acupuncture for the relief of renal colic caused by urinary stones. 120 renal colic patients were divided randomly into 3 groups.
Patients in group I (n = 40) were treated with IV acetaminophen, those in group II (n = 41) with acupuncture, and those in group III (n=40) with a 75-mg intramuscular injection diclofenac sodium. Acupuncture was applied on acupoints BL-21, BL-22, BL-23, BL-24, BL-45, BL-46, BL-47 and BL-48 on the side with acute renal colic pain. Pain was evaluated using Visual analogue scale (VAS) and verbal rating scale (VRS) after 10, 30, 60, and 120 minutes.
Results showed that after 10 minutes, all groups experienced a significant decrease in VAS and VRS scores, with the most drastic decrease occurring in the acupuncture-treated group. However, after 30 minutes, the diclofenac group experienced the highest and most significant effect. After 60 minutes, mean VAS scores of both drug groups were similar, and better than the acupuncture group and this was maintained until the 120 minutes. All groups had a decrease from VAS=9 to approx. 3-4. VRS findings were similar to those for VAS.
In specific renal colic patient groups for whom NSAIDs and acetaminophen cannot be administered (pregnant women, patients with distorted kidney function, peptic ulcer etc), acupuncture emerges as an alternative treatment modality for rapid and effective analgesia.