Article Text

Acupuncture for acute non-specific low back pain: a randomised, controlled, double-blind, placebo trial
  1. Tatiana Molinas Hasegawa1,
  2. Andréia Salvador Baptista1,
  3. Marcelo Cardoso de Souza1,
  4. Alexandre Massao Yoshizumi2,
  5. Jamil Natour1
  1. 1Rheumatology Division, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2Department of Acupuncture, Acupuncture Brazilian Medical Society, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jamil Natour, Disciplina de Reumatologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Rua Botucatu 740, CEP 04023-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil; jnatour{at}


Objective To assess the efficacy of Yamamoto's acupuncture method on pain, drug intake, functional capacity and quality of life for the treatment of acute non-specific low back pain (ANLBP).

Methods A prospective, randomised, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed in 80 men and women with ANLBP who were randomly assigned to five acupuncture sessions (intervention group (IG), n=40) and to five non-penetrating acupuncture sessions (sham group (SG), n=40). Patients were evaluated at baseline and at 3, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days. The measurements used were: visual analogue scale (VAS) for cumulative pain (before intervention, VAS1) and immediate pain (after intervention, VAS2); function (Roland–Morris Disability Questionnaire (RM)); quality of life (SF-36); improvement rating; and number of anti-inflammatory tablets taken. The primary endpoint was a decrease of at least 2 cm in VAS1.

Results Pain VAS improved significantly in the IG from day 14 onwards compared with the SG, but the difference did not reach the prespecified clinically relevant value of 2 cm. The IG was significantly superior to the SG in the following outcomes: cumulative pain, function, pain (SF-36) and vitality (SF-36) at days 14, 21 and 28 (p<0.05); limitation in physical aspects (SF-36) at all times (p=0.007 and p=0.02); and functional capacity (SF-36) at days 21 and 28 (p<0.05). The IG also took significantly fewer anti-inflammatory tablets than the SG (p=0.004) at all evaluation times and the improvement rating was better than the SG (p<0.001).

Conclusions Yamamoto's new scalp acupuncture was more effective than sham treatment with regard to decrease in pain and anti-inflammatory intake as well as improving functional status and quality of life for patients with ANLBP. NCT 01124955.

  • Acupuncture
  • Pain Management

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