Background: Chronic low-back pain (cLBP) is a common condition throughout the world, and acupuncture is widely sought for treatment. As clinical evidence for the benefits of acupuncture grows, acupuncture for cLBP is receiving increased recognition and acceptance by both patients and professionals. Time method acupuncture has been previously researched with respect to chronic gastritis.
Objective: For individuals with cLBP in the current study, the research team examined the efficacy of adding confluent acupoints, related to the daytime period in time method acupuncture, to regular acupuncture and also evaluated the persistence of the benefits of such acupuncture in comparison with regular acupuncture.
Design: The study was a randomized, controlled trial (RCT).
Setting: The setting was an outpatient clinic of the Dongzhimen Hospital in Beijing, China.
Participants: Participants were Chinese men and women with cLBP.
Intervention: Sixty participants were randomly divided into 2 groups to receive acupuncture. The control group received a treatment that followed a routine acupuncture (RA) protocol, while the intervention group received a treatment that followed an RA protocol plus acupuncture in confluent points related to time (TA).
Outcome measures: The research team measured the change in participants' scores using the visual analogue scale (VAS), the number of therapy sessions needed, the number of days that participants were absent from work during the treatment period and at 12 wk posttreatment, and the number of pain relapses between the end of treatment and the 4- and 12-wk follow-ups.
Results: VAS scores decreased from 69.6 ± 7.9 to 11.8 ± 4.9 in the intervention group compared with a decrease from 69.2 ± 8.0 to 15.7 ± 10.0 in the control group (P = .001). The intervention group received fewer therapy sessions (8.1 ± 2.0) than did the control group (10.1 ± 2.0, P < .001). Compared with the controls, the intervention group showed fewer days absent from work (0.5 vs 1.4; P = .03) and fewer pain relapses (4.0 vs 7.0; P = .04) at the 12-wk follow-up. In the 2 groups combined, VAS decreased from 69.4 ± 7.9 before the first session of acupuncture to 13.8 ± 8.0 after the last session (P < .001), and the number of therapy sessions needed for pain relief was 9.1 ± 2.2.
Conclusion: Accompanying routine acupuncture with time method acupuncture can enhance the efficacy of treatment and the persistence of its benefits in individuals with cLBP.