Auricular acupuncture (AA) is effective in treating various pain conditions, but there have been no analyses of AA for the treatment of pain after ambulatory knee surgery. We assessed the range of analgesic requirements under AA after ambulatory knee arthroscopy. Twenty patients randomly received a true AA procedure (Lung, Shenmen and Knee points) or sham procedure (three non-acupuncture points on the auricular helix) before ambulatory knee arthroscopy. Permanent press AA needles were retained
in situfor one day after surgery. Post-operative pain was treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ibuprofen, and weak oral opioid tramadol was used for rescue analgesic medication. The quantity of post-operative analgesics and pain intensity were used to assess the effect of AA. The incidence of analgesia-related side effects, time to discharge from the anesthesia recovery room, heart rate and blood pressure were also recorded. Ibuprofen consumption after surgery in the AA group was lower than in the control group: median 500 versus 800 mg, P= 0.043. Pain intensity on a 100 mm visual analogue scale for pain measurement and other parameters were similar in both groups. Thus AA might be useful in reducing the post-operative analgesic requirement after ambulatory knee arthroscopy.