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Acupunct Med. 2011 Jun;29(2):108-15. doi: 10.1136/aim.2010.003269. Epub 2011 Apr 6.

Acupuncture and massage therapy for neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury: an exploratory study.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



The study sought to explore the possibility of using acupuncture and massage therapy for relieving neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury (SCI).


30 individuals with SCI and neuropathic pain were assigned to treatment of either massage or acupuncture, with 15 individuals in each group. Both groups received treatment twice weekly for 6 weeks. Treatments were evaluated at the end of treatment and 2 months later (follow-up).


Data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. Within the groups, ratings of present pain, general pain, pain unpleasantness and coping improved significantly at the end of treatment after acupuncture compared to baseline values, and following massage therapy ratings of pain interference on the Multidimensional Pain Inventory improved. At follow-up no significant improvements were seen. Between-group differences were seen regarding ratings of worst pain intensity at the end of treatment, and regarding pain unpleasantness and coping with pain at follow-up, both in favour of acupuncture. At the end of treatment, eight of the 15 individuals receiving acupuncture and nine receiving massage reported an improvement on the Patient Global Impression of Change Scale, and at follow-up six patients in the acupuncture group and one patient in the massage group still reported a favourable effect from the treatment. Few side effects were reported and neither dropout from the study did this due to adverse events.


Neuropathic pain following SCI is often only partially responsive to most interventions. Results from this study indicate, however, that both acupuncture and massage therapy may relieve SCI neuropathic pain. For this reason, larger randomised controlled trials are warranted for assessing the long-term effects of these treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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