Acupuncture in the management of chronic low back pain: a blinded randomized controlled trial

Daniel P Kerr, Deirdre M Walsh, David Baxter
Clinical Journal of Pain 2003, 19 (6): 364-70

OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain.

METHODS: Patients (n = 60) with chronic low back pain were recruited and randomly allocated to either Acupuncture therapy or Placebo transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) groups. Patients were treated weekly for 6 weeks, and blinded assessments were carried out pre- and post-treatment using the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and visual analog scales (VAS) for pain, the Short-form 36 quality-of-life questionnaire, and a simple range of motion measurement. A total of 46 patients completed the trial and were followed up at 6 months.

RESULTS: Analysis of results using t tests showed that in both groups there were significant pre-post improvements for all scores, except for MPQ scores in the Placebo-TENS group. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups for any of the outcome measures at the end of treatment. Results from the 6-month follow-up would suggest that the response was better in the acupuncture group.

DISCUSSION: Further research is necessary to fully assess the efficacy of this treatment in combating chronic low back pain using larger sample sizes or alternative control groups.

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