Comparison of superficial and deep acupuncture in the treatment of lumbar myofascial pain: a double-blind randomized controlled study

Clin J Pain. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):149-53. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200205000-00003.


Objective: The aim of the study was to compare the therapeutic effect of the superficial and in-depth insertion of acupuncture needles in the treatment of patients with chronic lumbar myofascial pain.

Design: A prospective randomized double-blind study of superficial and deep acupuncture was conducted.

Setting: The study was conducted in the Pain Service Unit of the University of Padova.

Patients: The study comprised 42 patients with lumbar myofascial pain who were divided into two equal groups (A and B).

Intervention: In group A, the needle was introduced in the skin at a depth of 2 mm, whereas in group B the needle was placed deeply into muscular tissue. The treatment was planned for a cycle of eight sessions.

Outcome measures: The intensity of pain was evaluated with the McGill Pain Questionnaire before and after treatment and at the 3-month follow-up examination.

Results: Although at the end of the treatment there was no evidence of significant statistical differences between the two different groups, pain reduction was greater in the group treated with deep acupuncture. A statistical difference existed between the two groups at the 3-month follow up, with a better result in the deeply stimulated group.

Conclusions: Clinical results show that deep stimulation has a better analgesic effect when compared with superficial stimulation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Palliative Care