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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:8182071. doi: 10.1155/2016/8182071. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Acupuncture Treatment of Lateral Elbow Pain: A Nonrandomized Pilot Study.

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Changchun University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changchun 130117, Jilin, China.
School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.
World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies, Beijing 100061, China.
Istituto Paracelso, Rome 00153, Italy.


In planning for a large-scale multicenter trial to evaluate the effect of acupuncture for the treatment of lateral elbow pain, a pilot study was conducted. This was a prospective, investigator- and patient-blinded, nonrandomized, placebo controlled trial. Subjects were evaluated at baseline, before fourth, seventh, and ninth treatment, and at a two-week posttreatment follow-up. The treatment group received unilateral acupuncture at LI 10 and LI 11 at the affected side with manual needle manipulation; the control group received sham-laser acupuncture at the same acupoints. Measures included (i) disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) questionnaire, (ii) pain-free grip strength (PFGS), and (iii) a visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain. Significant differences in DASH score, PFGS, and VAS between treatment and control group were found at the ninth treatment (n = 20 for each group, P < 0.05). Only DASH showed significant differences compared to the control for all the measurement time points after treatment commenced and appears to be a sensitive and appropriate primary outcome measure for the future multisite trial. Results from this pilot study provided relevant information about treatment efficacy, credibility of control treatment, and sensitivity of different outcome measures for the planning of the future trial.

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