Article

Acupuncture for acute non-specific low back pain: a pilot randomised non-penetrating sham controlled trial.

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.22). 07/2008; 16(3):139-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2007.03.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A pilot study to assess the feasibility of a trial to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture compared to placebo needling for the treatment of acute low back pain (LBP). As part of this, the study was designed to establish the credibility of the placebo control, and to provide data to inform a power analysis to determine numbers for a future trial.
A pilot patient and assessor blinded randomized controlled trial.
Primary care health centre facility, South and East Belfast Trust, Northern Ireland.
Patients from the physiotherapy waiting list (n=48) with LBP of less than 12 weeks duration.
Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), medication use and an exit questionnaire were completed at baseline, end of treatment, and at 3 months follow up.
Ninety-four percent (45/48) of patients completed assigned treatment, 83% (40/48) completed 3 months follow-up. The sham needle used here proved to be credible: 91.7% in the placebo group believed they had received acupuncture, compared to 95.8% in the verum acupuncture group. Differences in baseline characteristics were accounted for using ANCOVA. There was no significant difference between groups on the RMDQ over time. For pain, the only statistically significant difference was at the 3 months follow up (worst VAS, point estimate, 18.7, 95% CI 1.5-36.0, p=0.034). The majority of patients were taking some form of analgesic medication for LBP at the start of treatment (n=44; 92%), and at the end of treatment the verum acupuncture group were taking significantly fewer tablets of pain control medication (mean (S.D.): 1.0+/-0.3) than the placebo group (mean (S.D.): 4.2+/-0.6, p<0.05). Based upon these data, power analysis (power=90%, alpha=0.05, minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for RMDQ=2.5 points) indicated that 120 participants (60 per group) would be needed to complete an adequately powered randomized controlled trial.
This study has demonstrated the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial of penetrating needle acupuncture compared to a non-penetrating sham for the treatment of acute LBP in primary care; 120 participants would be required in a fully powered trial. The placebo needle used in this study proved to be a credible form of control.

1 Bookmark
 · 
173 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In a recent individual patient data meta-analysis, acupuncture was found to be superior to both sham and non-sham controls in patients with chronic pain. In this paper we identify variations in types of sham and non-sham controls used and analyze their impact on the effect size of acupuncture. Based on literature searches of acupuncture trials involving patients with headache and migraine, osteoarthritis, and back, neck and shoulder pain, 29 trials met inclusion criteria, 20 involving sham controls (n = 5,230) and 18 non-sham controls (n = 14,597). For sham controls, we analysed non-needle sham, penetrating sham needles and non-penetrating sham needles. For non-sham controls, we analysed non-specified routine care and protocol-guided care. Using meta-regression we explored impact of choice of control on effect of acupuncture. Acupuncture was significantly superior to all categories of control group. For trials that used penetrating needles for sham control, acupuncture had smaller effect sizes than for trials with non-penetrating sham or sham control without needles. The difference in effect size was -0.45 (95% C.I. -0.78, -0.12; p = 0.007), or -0.19 (95% C.I. -0.39, 0.01; p = 0.058) after exclusion of outlying studies showing very large effects of acupuncture. In trials with non-sham controls, larger effect sizes associated with acupuncture vs. non-specified routine care than vs. protocol-guided care. Although the difference in effect size was large (0.26), it was not significant with a wide confidence interval (95% C.I. -0.05, 0.57, p = 0.1). Acupuncture is significantly superior to control irrespective of the subtype of control. While the choice of control should be driven by the study question, our findings can help inform study design in acupuncture, particularly with respect to sample size. Penetrating needles appear to have important physiologic activity. We recommend that this type of sham be avoided.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93739. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Evidence suggests that the course of low back pain (LBP) symptoms in randomised clinical trials (RCTs) follows a pattern of large improvement regardless of the type of treatment. A similar pattern was independently observed in observational studies. However, there is an assumption that the clinical course of symptoms is particularly influenced in RCTs by mere participation in the trials. To test this assumption, the aim of our study was to compare the course of LBP in RCTs and observational studies. Source of studies CENTRAL database for RCTs and MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and hand search of systematic reviews for cohort studies. Studies include individuals aged 18 or over, and concern non-specific LBP. Trials had to concern primary care treatments. Data were extracted on pain intensity. Meta-regression analysis was used to compare the pooled within-group change in pain in RCTs with that in cohort studies calculated as the standardised mean change (SMC). 70 RCTs and 19 cohort studies were included, out of 1134 and 653 identified respectively. LBP symptoms followed a similar course in RCTs and cohort studies: a rapid improvement in the first 6 weeks followed by a smaller further improvement until 52 weeks. There was no statistically significant difference in pooled SMC between RCTs and cohort studies at any time point:- 6 weeks: RCTs: SMC 1.0 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.0) and cohorts 1.2 (0.7to 1.7); 13 weeks: RCTs 1.2 (1.1 to 1.3) and cohorts 1.0 (0.8 to 1.3); 27 weeks: RCTs 1.1 (1.0 to 1.2) and cohorts 1.2 (0.8 to 1.7); 52 weeks: RCTs 0.9 (0.8 to 1.0) and cohorts 1.1 (0.8 to 1.6). The clinical course of LBP symptoms followed a pattern that was similar in RCTs and cohort observational studies. In addition to a shared 'natural history', enrolment of LBP patients in clinical studies is likely to provoke responses that reflect the nonspecific effects of seeking and receiving care, independent of the study design.
    BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 03/2014; 15(1):68. · 1.90 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pain visual analogue scales (VAS) are commonly used in clinical trials and are often treated as an interval level scale without evidence that this is appropriate. This paper examines the internal construct validity and responsiveness of the pain VAS using Rasch analysis.
    PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e99485. · 3.53 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
77 Downloads
Available from
May 17, 2014