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.