A randomized controlled clinical trial for low back pain treated by acupressure and physical therapy

Prev Med. 2004 Jul;39(1):168-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.01.036.


Background: Although acupressure has been reported to be effective in managing various types of pain, its efficacy in relieving pain associated with low back pain (LBP) remains unclear. The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy of acupressure with that of physical therapy in reducing low back pain.

Methods: A randomized controlled clinical trial in an orthopedic referral hospital in Taiwan was conducted between December 20, 2000, and March 2, 2001. A total of 146 participants with chronic low back pain were randomly assigned to the acupressure group (69) or the physical therapy group (77), each with a different treatment technique. Self-appraised pain scores were obtained before treatment as baseline and after treatment as outcomes using the Chinese version of Short-Form Pain Questionnaire (SF-PQ).

Results: There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics among patients randomized into the two groups. The mean of posttreatment pain score after a 4-week treatment (2.28, SD = 2.62) in the acupressure group was significantly lower than that in the physical therapy group (5.05, SD = 5.11) (P = 0.0002). At the 6-month follow-up assessment, the mean of pain score in the acupressure group (1.08, SD = 1.43) was still significantly lower than that in the physical therapy group (3.15, SD = 3.62) (P = 0.0004).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that acupressure is another effective alternative medicine in reducing low back pain, although the standard operating procedures involved with acupressure treatment should be carefully assessed in the future.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome