Electrical stimulation of auricular acupuncture points is more effective than conventional manual auricular acupuncture in chronic cervical pain: a pilot study

Sabine M Sator-Katzenschlager, Jozef C Szeles, Gisela Scharbert, Andrea Michalek-Sauberer, Alexander Kober, Georg Heinze, Sibylle A Kozek-Langenecker
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2003, 97 (5): 1469-73

UNLABELLED: In this prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled study, we tested the hypothesis that auricular electroacupuncture relieves pain more effectively than conventional manual auricular acupuncture. We studied 21 chronic cervical pain patients without radicular symptoms with insufficient pain relief (visual analogue scale >5) treated with standardized analgesic therapy. All patients received disposable acupuncture needles on the dominant side on the following acupuncture points: cervical spine, shen men, and cushion. In 10 patients, needles were continuously stimulated (2-mA constant current, 1 Hz monophasic) by using the electrical point stimulation device P-STIM. In 11 control patients, no electrical stimulation was administered. All needles were withdrawn 48 h after insertion. Acupuncture was performed once a week for 6 wk. Patients had to complete a questionnaire assessing pain intensity, psychological well-being, activity, sleep, and demand for rescue medication (lornoxicam and tramadol). The reduction in pain scores was significant in the electrical acupuncture group. Similarly, psychological well-being, activity, and sleep were significantly improved in patients receiving electrical acupuncture, and consumption of rescue medication was significantly less. These results demonstrate that continuous electrical stimulation of auricular acupuncture points by using the new point stimulation device P-STIM improves the treatment of chronic cervical pain in an outpatient population.

IMPLICATIONS: Continuous electrical stimulation of auricular acupuncture points by using the new point stimulation device P-STIM significantly decreases pain intensity and significantly improves psychological well-being, activity, and sleep in chronic cervical pain patients.

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