The use of electro-acupuncture in conjunction with exercise for the treatment of chronic low-back pain

J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Aug;9(4):479-90. doi: 10.1089/107555303322284767.


Objectives: To determine the effect of a series of electro-acupuncture (EA) treatment in conjunction with exercise on the pain, disability, and functional improvement scores of patients with chronic low-back pain (LBP).

Design: A blinded prospective randomized controlled study.

Subjects and interventions: A total of 52 patients were randomly allocated to an exercise group (n = 26) or an exercise plus EA group (n = 26) and treated for 12 sessions.

Outcome measures: Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), Aberdeen LBP scale, lumbar spinal active range of movement (AROM), and the isokinetic strength were assessed by a blinded observer. Repeated measures analysis of variance (R-ANOVA) with factors of group and time was used to compare the outcomes between the two groups at baseline (before treatment), immediately after treatment, 1-month follow-up, and 3-month follow-up. The level of significance was set at p = 0.05.

Results: Significantly better scores in the NRS and Aberdeen LBP scale were found in the exercise plus EA group immediately after treatment and at 1-month follow-up. Higher scores were also seen at 3-month follow-up. No significant differences were observed in spinal AROM and isokinetic trunk concentric strength between the two groups at any stage of follow-up.

Conclusions: This study provides additional data on the potential role of EA in the treatment of LBP, and indicates that the combination of EA and back exercise might be an effective option in the treatment of pain and disability associated with chronic LBP.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Research Design
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome