I’ve linked before to research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for managing pain. But a recent meta-study published in PAIN suggests that real acupuncture is no more effective than “fake” acupuncture:
The authors observe that recent results from high-quality randomized controlled trials have shown that various forms of acupuncture, including so-called “sham acupuncture,” during which no needles actually penetrate the skin, are equally effective for chronic low back pain, and more effective than standard care. In these and other studies, the effects were attributed to such factors as therapist conviction, patient enthusiasm or the acupuncturist’s communication style. […]
In an accompanying commentary, Harriet Hall, MD, states her position forcefully: “Importantly, when a treatment is truly effective, studies tend to produce more convincing results as time passes and the weight of evidence accumulates. When a treatment is extensively studied for decades and the evidence continues to be inconsistent, it becomes more and more likely that the treatment is not truly effective. This appears to be the case for acupuncture. In fact, taken as a whole, the published (and scientifically rigorous) evidence leads to the conclusion that acupuncture is no more effective than placebo
ScienceDaily: Acupuncture for Pain No Better Than Placebo — And Not Without Harm, Study Finds
The story also mentions harmful side affects from acupuncture malpractice (though malpractice is a risk in just about any professional service).