Acupuncture in the management of chronic low back pain: a blinded randomized controlled trial

Clin J Pain. Nov-Dec 2003;19(6):364-70. doi: 10.1097/00002508-200311000-00004.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic low back pain.

Methods: Patients (n = 60) with chronic low back pain were recruited and randomly allocated to either Acupuncture therapy or Placebo transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) groups. Patients were treated weekly for 6 weeks, and blinded assessments were carried out pre- and post-treatment using the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and visual analog scales (VAS) for pain, the Short-form 36 quality-of-life questionnaire, and a simple range of motion measurement. A total of 46 patients completed the trial and were followed up at 6 months.

Results: Analysis of results using t tests showed that in both groups there were significant pre-post improvements for all scores, except for MPQ scores in the Placebo-TENS group. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups for any of the outcome measures at the end of treatment. Results from the 6-month follow-up would suggest that the response was better in the acupuncture group.

Discussion: Further research is necessary to fully assess the efficacy of this treatment in combating chronic low back pain using larger sample sizes or alternative control groups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture / methods*
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome