One in four people suffers from chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP). Acupuncture points stimulation is increasingly used for pain relief for CMP. Commonly, a combination of local and distant points is used. However, the difference between the effects of local and distant point stimulation is unknown. This systematic review aimed to determine if there was a difference in effects between stimulating local and distant points, and the combination of both when compared with either alone. English and Chinese electronic databases were searched to identify randomized controlled trials, where local or distant points were stimulated in adults with CMP. Pain intensity was the primary outcome measure. Nineteen were included in the qualitative analysis and 15 in the meta-analysis. Local and distant point stimulation was more effective than their respective controls in pain reduction immediately after treatment. Three studies directly compared the stimulation of local and distant points and found no significant difference between the two. No studies compared combined local and distant point stimulation with either alone. Subgroup analyses showed that, local tender point stimulation was more effective than local acupuncture points. Local and distant point stimulation induces similar degree of acupuncture analgesia. The benefit of combining local and distant point stimulation is unknown. However, subgroup analyses suggested that local tender points could be important in the treatment of CMP for short-term pain relief.
© 2015 European Pain Federation - EFIC®