Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the immediate effect of single acupuncture stimulation to the most painful point in patients with low back pain.
Method: A randomised, evaluator-blinded, sham controlled clinical trial was conducted in which 31 patients with low back pain were randomly allocated to either an acupuncture group (n = 15) or a sham acupuncture group (n = 16). Both acupuncture and sham acupuncture were performed at the most painful point on the lower back of the subjects. For the acupuncture group, a stainless steel needle was inserted to a depth of 20 mm and manually stimulated (sparrow pecking method) for 20 seconds, while for the sham treatment a guide tube without a needle was placed at the point and tapped on the skin. Changes in low back pain were evaluated with a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Schober test. Participants were also asked if they felt the needling sensation or not. The therapy and the evaluation were independently performed by two different acupuncturists.
Results: VAS score and the Schober test score showed significant improvement after treatment as compared with the sham group (P = 0.02, 0.001, respectively). There were no significant differences in the needling sensation between the acupuncture and sham group.
Conclusion: These results suggest that acupuncture at the most painful point gives immediate relief of low back pain.