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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Hsieh 2004.

A promising trial of acupressure for low back pain

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Tags: muscle pain, good news, back pain, acupuncture, muscle, pain problems, spine, mind, controversy, debunkery, energy work

PainSci summary of Hsieh 2004?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★★?5-star ratings are for sentinel studies, excellent experiments with meaningful results. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This is a 2004 Taiwanese test comparing “acupressure” — acupuncture with pressure instead of needles — to physical therapy for back pain. It was randomized and controlled and involved 146 subjects (that’s a good number). The acupressure group had less pain than the physical therapy group in the short and medium term. How much less? At one month, a pain score of 2.3 versus 5; after six months, 1.1 versus 3.1.

The researchers concluded that “acupressure is another effective alternative medicine in reducing low back pain.” The same research group reproduced similar evidence in 2006 and published in the British Medical Journal: see Hsieh. It’s all quite promising, isn it? But there are complex caveats here: see also the BMJ commentary Frost.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Although acupressure has been reported to be effective in managing various types of pain, its efficacy in relieving pain associated with low back pain (LBP) remains unclear. The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy of acupressure with that of physical therapy in reducing low back pain.

METHODS: A randomized controlled clinical trial in an orthopedic referral hospital in Taiwan was conducted between December 20, 2000, and March 2, 2001. A total of 146 participants with chronic low back pain were randomly assigned to the acupressure group (69) or the physical therapy group (77), each with a different treatment technique. Self-appraised pain scores were obtained before treatment as baseline and after treatment as outcomes using the Chinese version of Short-Form Pain Questionnaire (SF-PQ).

RESULTS: There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics among patients randomized into the two groups. The mean of posttreatment pain score after a 4-week treatment (2.28, SD = 2.62) in the acupressure group was significantly lower than that in the physical therapy group (5.05, SD = 5.11) (P = 0.0002). At the 6-month follow-up assessment, the mean of pain score in the acupressure group (1.08, SD = 1.43) was still significantly lower than that in the physical therapy group (3.15, SD = 3.62) (P = 0.0004).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that acupressure is another effective alternative medicine in reducing low back pain, although the standard operating procedures involved with acupressure treatment should be carefully assessed in the future.

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One article on PainScience.com cites Hsieh 2004 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: