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Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Multicenter, Randomized, Patient-Assessor Blind, Sham-Controlled Clinical Trial

Cho, Yu-Jeong KMD*; Song, Yun-Kyung KMD, PhD; Cha, Yun-Yeop KMD, PhD; Shin, Byung-Cheul KMD, PhD§; Shin, Im-Hee PhD; Park, Hi-Joon KMD, PhD[BULLET OPERATOR],**; Lee, Hyang-Sook KMD, PhD**; Kim, Koh-Woon KMD*; Cho, Jae-Heung KMD*; Chung, Won-Suk KMD, PhD*; Lee, Jun-Hwan KMD, PhD*,††; Song, Mi-Yeon KMD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318275e601
Randomized Trial

Study Design. Multicenter, randomized, patient-assessor blind, sham-controlled clinical trial.

Objective. To investigate the efficacy of acupuncture treatment with individualized setting for reduction of bothersomeness in participants with chronic low back pain (cLBP).

Summary of Background Data. Low back pain is one of the main reasons of disability among adults of working age. Acupuncture is known as an effective treatment of cLBP, but it remains unclear whether acupuncture is superior to placebo.

Methods One hundred thirty adults aged 18 to 65 years with nonspecific LBP lasting for at least last 3 months prior to the trial participated in the study from 3 Korean medical hospitals. Participants received individualized real acupuncture treatments or sham acupuncture treatments for more than 6 weeks (twice a week) from Korean Medicine doctors. Primary outcome was change of visual analogue scale (VAS) score for bothersomeness of cLBP. Secondary outcomes included VAS score for pain intensity and questionnaires including Oswestry Disability Index, general health status (Short Form-36), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).

Results There were no baseline differences observed between the 2 groups, except in the Oswestry Disability Index. One hundred sixteen participants finished the treatments and 3- and 6-month follow-ups, with 14 subjects dropping out. Significant difference in VAS score for bothersomeness and pain intensity score of cLBP has been found between the 2 groups (P < 0.05) at the primary end point (8 wk). In addition, those 2 scores improved continuously until 3-month follow-up (P = 0.011, P = 0.005, respectively). Oswestry Disability Index, the Beck Depression Inventory, and Short Form-36 scores were also improved in both groups without group difference.

Conclusion. This randomized sham-controlled trial suggests that acupuncture treatment shows better effect on the reduction of the bothersomeness and pain intensity than sham control in participants with cLBP.

To investigate the efficacy of acupuncture in participants with chronic low back pain (cLBP), participants underwent real or sham acupuncture. Difference in visual analogue scale scores for bothersomeness has been found between 2 groups after treatments. It suggests that acupuncture shows better effects on the reduction of bothersomeness than sham control in cLBP.

*Department of Korean Rehabilitation Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea

Department of Korean Rehabilitation Medicine, Gachon University, Sungnam, Korea

Department of Korean Rehabilitation Medicine, Sang Ji University, Wonju, Korea

§Division of Clinical Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Korea

Department of Biomedical Statistics, Catholic University of Daegu, Daegu, Korea

[BULLET OPERATOR]Department of Meridian and Acupoints, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea

**Acupuncture & Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea; and

††Acupuncture, Moxibustion & Meridian Research Group, Medical Research Division, Korea Institute of Korean Medicine, Daejeon, Korea

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Mi-Yeon Song, KMD, PhD, Department of Korean Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, 130-701 Seoul, South Korea; E-mail:

Acknowledgment date: March 20, 2012. First revision date: July 20, 2012. Second revision date: September 21, 2012. Acceptance date: September 23, 2012.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.