Self-Administered Acupressure for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

Pain Med. 2019 Dec 1;20(12):2588-2597. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnz138.


Objective Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is associated with fatigue, pain, poor sleep, and disability. Acupressure is a low-risk treatment option used to manage symptoms in other groups, but its efficacy, particularly on fatigue and sleep, is unknown in CLBP. This study examined preliminary effects of two types of self-administered acupressure (relaxing and stimulating) on fatigue, pain, sleep, and reported disability. Methods A randomized pilot trial was conducted (N = 67) in which participants were randomized into six weeks of relaxing acupressure, stimulating acupressure, or usual care. Fatigue was measured by the Brief Fatigue Inventory, pain was measured by the Brief Pain Inventory, sleep was measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and reported disability was measured by the Roland Morris Scale. Results Baseline characteristics were similar across groups. An intent-to-treat analysis using general linear models showed positive improvement in pain in acupressure groups compared with usual care. Pain was reduced by 35-36% in the acupressure groups. Improvement in fatigue was also found in stimulating acupressure compared with usual care. Adverse events were minimal and related to application of too much pressure. Discussion Although this was a small study, acupressure demonstrated promising preliminary support of efficacy for pain and fatigue reduction in this population.

Trial registration: NCT02106741.

Keywords: Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Nonpharmacological.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Sleep*
  • Young Adult

Associated data