Treatment of low back pain by acupressure and physical therapy: randomised controlled trial

BMJ. 2006 Mar 25;332(7543):696-700. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38744.672616.AE. Epub 2006 Feb 17.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of acupressure in terms of disability, pain scores, and functional status.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Orthopaedic clinic in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Participants: 129 patients with chronic low back pain.

Intervention: Acupressure or physical therapy for one month.

Main outcome measures: Self administered Chinese versions of standard outcome measures for low back pain (primary outcome: Roland and Morris disability questionnaire) at baseline, after treatment, and at six month follow-up.

Results: The mean total Roland and Morris disability questionnaire score after treatment was significantly lower in the acupressure group than in the physical therapy group regardless of the difference in absolute score (- 3.8, 95% confidence interval - 5.7 to - 1.9) or mean change from the baseline (- 4.64, - 6.39 to - 2.89). Acupressure conferred an 89% (95% confidence interval 61% to 97%) reduction in significant disability compared with physical therapy. The improvement in disability score in the acupressure group compared with the physical group remained at six month follow-up. Statistically significant differences also occurred between the two groups for all six domains of the core outcome, pain visual scale, and modified Oswestry disability questionnaire after treatment and at six month follow-up.

Conclusions: Acupressure was effective in reducing low back pain in terms of disability, pain scores, and functional status. The benefit was sustained for six months.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disabled Persons
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome