Objectives: To assess the effect of acupoint stimulation with electrodes combined with acupressure using an aromatic essential oil (lavender) as an add-on-treatment on pain relief and enhancing the physical functional activities among adults with sub-acute or chronic non-specific low back pain.
Design: Randomised controlled trial.
Setting: The community centre, Old-Aged Home and Women Workers Association, Hong Kong.
Intervention: 8-session relaxation acupoint stimulation followed by acupressure with lavender oil over a 3-week period. The control group received usual care only.
Outcome measures: Changes from baseline to the end of treatment were assessed in pain intensity (by Visual Analogue Scale) and duration; lateral fingertip-to-ground distance in centimetres; walking time and interference on daily activities.
Results: The baseline VAS scores for the intervention and control groups were 6.38 (S.E.M. = 0.22) and 5.70 (S.E.M. = 0.37) out of 10, respectively ( P=0.24 ). One week after the end of treatment, the intervention group had 39% greater reduction in VAS pain intensity than the control group ( P=0.0001 ), improved walking time ( P=0.05 ) and greater lateral spine flexion range ( P=0.01 ).
Conclusions: Our results show that 8-sessions of acupoint stimulation followed by acupressure with aromatic lavender oil were an effective method for short-term LBP relief. No adverse effects were reported. To complement mainstream medical treatment for sub-acute LBP, the combined therapy of acupoint stimulation followed by acupressure with aromatic lavender oil may be one of the choices as an add-on therapy for short-term reduction of LBP.