Table 3

Studies examining the effect of needle location

Study (number of participants)InterventionComparator group(s)Outcome measureTreatment outcome for pain
Liu et al21
(n=501)
EA at SP6 (n=167)EA at GB39 (n=167) or non-acupuncture point (n=167)VAS
VRS
Immediate:
SP6 caused a significantly greater reduction (−4.0 mm) in VAS recorded pain than GB39 (p=0.010) or a non-acupuncture point (p=0.012)
Short-term:
All groups showed improvement in VRS with no between group differences
Liu et al24
(n=194)
EA at SP6
(n=50)
EA at GB39 (n=50) or non-acupuncture point (n=46)
Wait list control (n=48)
VASImmediate:
All three acupuncture groups showed pain reductions from baseline (p<0.05). GB39 showed a greater reduction than the non-acupuncture point (−7.18 mm, 95% CI −13.84 to −0.51, p=0.035) but no difference to SP6
Shi et al22
(n=40)
EA at
SP6 (n=10)
EA at GB39 (n=10) or non-acupuncture point (n=10)
Wait list control (n=10)
VASImmediate: All EA groups had a reduction in pain (p<0.05) compared to wait list control. No differences between EA groups
Ma et al23
(n=52)
EA at
SP6
(n=13)
EA at GB39 (n=14) or unrelated acupuncture point (n=12)
Wait list control (n=13)
VASImmediate:
All EA pain reduced from baseline at 5, 10 and 30 min (p<0.001). SP6 had the greatest pain reduction (superior to multiple points, SMD −23.19 mm) compared to control at 30 min post-intervention (p<0.0001)
Yu et al11
(n=66)
MA at SP6
(n=32)
MA at GB39
(n=34)
Menstrual pain scoreImmediate:
SP6 group had greater pain reduction at 5 min compared to the GB39 group (SMD −1.31, 95% CI −1.85 to −0.77, p<0.05)
Helms25
(n=43)
MA at traditional acupuncture points (real) (n=11)MA at non-channel points (‘placebo’) (n=11)
Standard control: same care as before the study (n=11)
Visitation control: increased visits from physician (n=10)
Custom pain scale: 0–6Short-term:
No difference between groups for pain scores.
Long-term:
Greater proportion of women in the ‘real’ group (90.9%) showed ≥50% reduction in pain compared to women in the ‘placebo’ group (36.4%) (p<0.05)
  • CI, confidence interval; EA, electroacupuncture; MA, manual acupuncture; SMD, standardised mean difference; VAS, visual analogue scale; VRS, verbal rating scale.