Acupuncture and Trager psychophysical integration in the treatment of wheelchair user's shoulder pain in individuals with spinal cord injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Aug;82(8):1038-46. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2001.24888.


Objective: To determine the effectiveness of acupuncture and Trager Psychophysical Integration (a form of manual therapy) in decreasing chronic shoulder pain in wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design: A prospective clinical trial, with subjects randomized to acupuncture or Trager treatment condition. Subjects served as their own controls by including a 5-week pretreatment baseline period and a 5-week posttreatment follow-up period.

Setting: Rehabilitation hospital research department.

Participants: Eighteen subjects with chronic SCI and chronic shoulder pain who used manual wheelchairs as their primary means of mobility.

Intervention: Ten acupuncture or 10 Trager treatments over a 5-week period.

Main outcome measures: Changes in performance-corrected Wheelchair User's Shoulder Pain Index (PC-WUSPI) scores during baseline, treatment, and follow-up periods were assessed by using analysis of variance.

Results: The mean PC-WUSPI score +/- standard deviation of the 18 subjects at entry was 48.9 +/- 24.6 (range, 8.0-94). No significant change in mean PC-WUSPI scores occurred during the pretreatment baseline period. Mean PC-WUSPI scores decreased significantly during the treatment period in both the acupuncture (53.4%; 23.3 points) and Trager (53.8%; 21.7 points) treatment groups. The reduced PC-WUSPI scores were maintained in both groups throughout the 5-week posttreatment follow-up period.

Conclusion: Acupuncture and Trager are both effective treatments for reducing chronic shoulder pain associated with functional activities in persons with SCI.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychophysiology / methods*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wheelchairs*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal