Acupuncture for Poststroke Shoulder Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:3549878. doi: 10.1155/2016/3549878. Epub 2016 Jul 31.


Objective. To summarize and evaluate evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving poststroke shoulder pain. Methods. Seven databases were searched without language restrictions. All randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of acupuncture for poststroke shoulder pain compared with controls were included. Assessments were performed primarily with the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA), and effective rates. Results. In all, 188 potentially relevant articles were identified; 12 were randomized controlled trials that met our inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis showed that acupuncture combined with rehabilitation treatment appeared to be more effective than rehabilitation treatment alone for poststroke shoulder pain, as assessed by VAS (weighted mean difference, 1.87; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-2.54; <0.001); FMA (weighted mean difference, 8.70; 95% CI, 6.58-10.82; P < 0.001); and effective rate (RR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.18-1.47; P < 0.001). Conclusions. Although there is some evidence for an effect of acupuncture on poststroke shoulder pain, the results are inconclusive. Further studies with more subjects and a rigorous study design are needed to confirm the role of acupuncture in the treatment of poststroke shoulder pain.

Publication types

  • Review