Acupuncture for Pain in Sickle Cell Disease

2019-10-16 10:39:34 | BioPortfolio


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic disorder in the United States affecting approximately 100,000 individuals primarily of African ancestry. Pain is the most common complication of SCD. Currently, the mainstay therapy for pain in SCD is opioids. The CDC recommends using non-opioid, non-pharmacologic therapies for pain. There is a growing body of literature to support the use of various integrative therapies for pain.

Acupuncture therapy is a non-pharmacological Chinese medicine approach which has been used in many non-SCD conditions associated with pain. Proposed study will test acceptability and feasibility of use of acupuncture in SCD patients hospitalized for pain. It is hypothesized that the use of acupuncture as an adjuvant therapy will be acceptable to SCD patients admitted for pain control. Its impact on opioid use and circulating cytokines and neuropeptides will also be determined.


This study will evaluate the acceptability and tolerability of acupuncture in patients with SCD admitted for management of acute pain. SCD patients admitted for pain control will be approached for the study. The participants agreeing to receive acupuncture will receive acupuncture once daily for upto 5 days or the day of discharge.

For the primary endpoint of the study, the investigators will determine the proportions of eligible patients/families that are willing to accept acupuncture with their standard of care management of pain. The investigators anticipate ≥60% of patients will agree to accept acupuncture as part of their inpatient pain management.

The investigators also aim to explore whether the use of acupuncture affects opioid use during hospitalization. This secondary endpoint will evaluate opioid use in morphine milligram equivalent (MME) while hospitalized and other outcomes (side effects, pain control and function) which will be compared between the following two groups of patients

1. Treatment group: Participants with SCD hospitalized for acute pain who agree to receive acupuncture (standard of care treatment plus acupuncture)

2. Control group: Participants with SCD hospitalized for acute pain who decline to receive acupuncture (standard of care treatment alone) but agree to serve as controls to allow the study team to collect data on pain-related outcomes (secondary end-points above).

This study will also explore if acupuncture modifies the concentration of circulating cytokines and neuropeptides in the study participants. The study team will draw blood at baseline before acupuncture treatment and on the day of discharge or when the decision to discharge to home will be made by the inpatient team. Concentrations of circulating cytokines and neuropeptides will be compared between the groups. .

Study Design


Sickle Cell Disease




Children's National Health System
District of Columbia
United States




Children's Research Institute

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-10-16T10:39:34-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

One of the sickle cell disorders characterized by the presence of both hemoglobin S and hemoglobin C. It is similar to, but less severe than sickle cell anemia.

An abnormal hemoglobin resulting from the substitution of valine for glutamic acid at position 6 of the beta chain of the globin moiety. The heterozygous state results in sickle cell trait, the homozygous in sickle cell anemia.

The occupational discipline of the traditional Chinese methods of ACUPUNCTURE THERAPY for treating disease by inserting needles along specific pathways or meridians.

An acute purulent infection of the meninges and subarachnoid space caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, most prevalent in children and adults over the age of 60. This illness may be associated with OTITIS MEDIA; MASTOIDITIS; SINUSITIS; RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS; sickle cell disease (ANEMIA, SICKLE CELL); skull fractures; and other disorders. Clinical manifestations include FEVER; HEADACHE; neck stiffness; and somnolence followed by SEIZURES; focal neurologic deficits (notably DEAFNESS); and COMA. (From Miller et al., Merritt's Textbook of Neurology, 9th ed, p111)

A type of massage in which finger pressure on specific body sites is used to promote healing, relieve fatigue, etc. Although the anatomical locations are the same as the ACUPUNCTURE POINTS used in ACUPUNCTURE THERAPY (hence acu-), no needle or other acupuncture technique is employed in acupressure. (From Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2d ed). Shiatsu is a modern outgrowth that focuses more on prevention than healing.

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