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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2015, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (4): 241-247.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60178-9

• Systematic Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effectiveness of bee venom acupuncture in alleviating post-stroke shoulder pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sung Min Lim, Sook-Hyun Lee   

  1. Department of Clinical Research on Rehabilitation, Korea National Rehabilitation Research Institute, Seoul 142-070, Korea
  • Received:2015-01-06 Accepted:2015-03-17 Online:2015-07-10 Published:2015-07-15

Shoulder pain is a common complication of stroke. Bee venom acupuncture (BVA) is increasingly used in the treatment of post-stroke shoulder pain.
To summarize and evaluate evidence on the effectiveness of BVA in relieving shoulder pain after stroke.
Search strategy
Nine databases, namely MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), the Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator, Electronic (J-STAGE), and four Korean medical databases, namely, the National Assembly Library, the Research Information Service System, the National Discovery for Science Leaders, and OASIS, were searched from their inception through August 2014 without language restrictions.
Inclusion criteria
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included if BVA was used at acupoints as the sole treatment, or as an adjunct to other treatments, for shoulder pain after stroke.
Data extraction and analysis
Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed methodological quality and extracted data.
A total of 138 potentially relevant articles were identified, 4 of which were RCTs that met our inclusion criteria. The quality of studies included was generally low, and a preponderance of positive results was demonstrated. All four trials reported favorable effects of BVA on shoulder pain after stroke. Two RCTs assessing the effects of BVA on post-stroke shoulder pain, as opposed to saline injections, were included in the meta-analysis. Pain was significantly lower for BVA than for saline injections (standardized mean difference on 10-cm visual analog scale: 1.46 cm, 95% CI = 0.30–2.62, P = 0.02, n = 86)
This review provided evidence suggesting that BVA is effective in relieving shoulder pain after stroke. However, further studies are needed to confirm the role of BVA in alleviating post-stroke shoulder pain. Future studies should be conducted with large samples and rigorous study designs.

Key words: Bee venoms, Acupuncture therapy, Stroke, Shoulder pain, Meta-analysis, Systematic review

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