Objective: Many claims have been made regarding the therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture. However, most controlled clinical studies have been limited to treatment of pain-related disorders and do not provide objective, quantifiable data for analysis. Traditional acupuncture has been applied to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, only a few studies have been performed to determine the efficacy of this treatment. This study was conducted to determine whether a combination of traditional acupuncture treatment and conservative treatment for COPD improves dyspnea on exercise.
Methods: This was a prospective trial with matched-pair parallel groups of patients from the departments of respiratory internal medicine of Gifu University of Medicine, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, and Gifu Red Cross Hospital, Japan. Thirty patients were divided into the acupuncture group (n = 15) and the control group (n = 15). The control group received conservative treatment with medication only. The acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments once a week for 10 weeks, in addition to conservative treatment with medication. The main outcome measure was the Modified Borg dyspnea scale after the 6-minute walk test.
Results: The acupuncture group had significantly better results on the Borg scale than the control group after 10 weeks (2.2 +/- 2.7 versus 6.4 +/- 3.4, p = 0.0001, 95% confidence interval, -5.10 to -2.35, paired t-test). The 6-minute walk distance and oxygen saturation at the minimum rate improved significantly in the acupuncture group compared with the control group.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that acupuncture contributed to the reduction of COPD-related dyspnea on exercise in 15 matched-pair parallel subjects.