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J Tradit Chin Med. 2019 Aug;39(4):587-598.

Effect of hand-ear acupuncture on chronic low-back pain: a randomized controlled trial.

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Graduate College, The People's Liberation Army Naval Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Department, The General Hospital of Western Theater Command, Chengdu 610083, China.
The People's Liberation Army 32357 troops, Chengdu 611630, China.



To evaluate the effect of hand-ear acupuncture on chronic low-back pain (cLBP).


This was an open, randomized and controlled trial in The General Hospital of Western Theater Command, Sichuan Province. The trial was registered with, NCT02260284. All the 152 participates with cLBP were randomly assigned to hand-ear acupuncture (n = 54), standard acupuncture (n = 50), or usual care groups (n = 48). Eighteen treatments were provided over 7 weeks. Back-related dysfunction and symptom severity were assessed by the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), which were collected at baseline, 2 months and 6 months post to the treatment.


At 6 months, the RMDQ scores improved by 7.74 points of hand-ear acupuncture group. Significant improvement of VAS and RMDQ was observed in hand-ear acupuncture group (P < 0.001), but no significant changes of RMDQ were observed in both standard acupuncture group and usual care group. We also observed an overall efficacy rate of 88.89% in hand-ear acupuncture group, as evaluated by Diagnosis and Curative Effect Standard for Symptom pattern of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which was much higher than 45.84% in the usual care group (H = 16.000, P < 0.001).


Both of the hand-ear acupuncture and standard acupuncture modes have beneficial and persistent effectiveness against cLBP compared with the usual care. Furthermore, hand-ear acupuncture is significantly more effective than the standardized acupuncture, especially in the long term.


Acupuncture; Low back pain; Questionnaire; Randomized controlled trial; Visual analogue scale


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