Therapeutic efficacy and the impact of the “dose” effect of acupuncture to treat sciatica: A randomized controlled pilot study

Ching Hsiung Liu, Yen Ying Kung, Chun Liang Lin, Jen Lin Yang, Ta Peng Wu, Hong Chun Lin, Yang Kai Chang, Ching Mao Chang, Fang Pey Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: To investigate the required sample size for and feasibility of a full-scale randomized controlled trial examining the impact of the “dose” effect of acupuncture in treating sciatica. Patients and methods: Fifty-seven patients with sciatica, aged 35–70 years, were recruited and screened. Thirty-one participants were randomly assigned to receive “low-dose” manual acupuncture (MAL) (n= 15) or “high-dose” manual acupuncture (MAH) (n=16). The acupuncture treatment was administered twice weekly for 4 weeks. The primary outcome was the visual analog scale (VAS) score at baseline and after 4 weeks of acupuncture treatment. Secondary outcomes included the Roland Disability Questionnaire for Sciatica (RDQS), the Sciatica Bothersomeness Index (SBI), and the World Health Organization Quality of Life in the Brief Edition (WHOQOL-BREF) scores at baseline and after 4 weeks of acupuncture treatment. Results: Thirty patients completed the study. For all patients, acupuncture achieved significant improvement in the VAS (5.48±2.0, p<0.001), RDQS (3.18±2.83, p=0.004), and SBI (2.85±3.23, p=0.008) scores, but not in the WHOQOL-BREF scores. In the between-group analysis, the assessed scales showed no significant differences between the MAL and MAH groups. However, based on the level of chronicity, the MAH group demonstrated greater improvement in the outcomes and a significant benefit in the physical subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF (p<0.05). Conclusion: Results of this pilot study indicate that acupuncture is safe and may effectively relieve symptoms and disability in patients with non-acute sciatica. MAL was as effective as MAH in treating sciatica. A subsequent trial with a larger sample size (estimated at n=96) is required to confirm whether patients with a high level of chronicity would benefit from MAH treatment. Trial registration: NCT03489681.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3511-3520
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain Research
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Acupoints
  • Alternative medicine
  • Analgesia
  • Chronic pain
  • Low back pain
  • Noninvasive treatment

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