Exercise and manual auricular acupuncture: A pilot assessor-blind randomised controlled trial. (The acupuncture and personalised exercise programme (APEP) Trial)

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute and School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, UK.
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (Impact Factor: 1.72). 02/2008; 9:31. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-31
Source: PubMed


Evidence supports the use of exercise for chronic low back pain (CLBP); however, adherence is often poor due to ongoing pain. Auricular acupuncture is a form of pain relief involving the stimulation of points on the outer ear corresponding with specific body parts. It may be a useful adjunct to exercise in managing CLBP; however, there is only limited evidence to support its use with this patient group.
This study was designed to test the feasibility of an assessor-blind randomised controlled trial which assess the effects on clinical outcomes and exercise adherence of adding manual auricular acupuncture to a personalised and supervised exercise programme (PEP) for CLBP. No sample size calculation has been carried out as this study aims to identify CLBP referral rates within the catchment area of the study site. The researchers aim to recruit four cohorts of n = 20 participants to facilitate a power analysis for a future randomised controlled trial. A computer generated random allocation sequence will be prepared centrally and used to allocate participants by cohort to one of the following interventions: 1) six weeks of PEP plus manual auricular acupuncture; 2) six weeks of PEP alone. Both groups will also complete a further six weeks of self-paced exercise with telephone follow-up support. In addition to a baseline and exit questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study, the following outcomes will be collected at baseline, and after 7, 13 and 25 weeks: pain frequency and bothersomeness, back-specific function, objective assessment and recall of physical activity, use of analgesia, perceived self-efficacy, fear avoidance beliefs, and beliefs about the consequences of back pain. Since this is a feasibility study, significance tests will not be presented, and treatment effects will be represented by point estimates and confidence intervals. For each outcome variable, analysis of covariance will be performed on the data, conditioning on the baseline value.
The results of this study investigating the adjuvant effects of auricular acupuncture to exercise in managing CLBP will be used to inform the design of a future multi-centre randomised controlled trial.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN94142364.

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    • "50 adult participants (Male or Female; aged 18 years or over) with LBP persisting for at least twelve weeks will be included in the study. Participants will be recruited through a number of different sources using previously employed methods [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Current evidence supports the use of exercise-based treatment for chronic low back pain that encourages the patient to assume an active role in their recovery. Walking has been shown it to be an acceptable type of exercise with a low risk of injury. However, it is not known whether structured physical activity programmes are any more effective than giving advice to remain active. The proposed study will test the feasibility of using a pedometer-driven walking programme, as an adjunct to a standard education and advice session in participants with chronic low back pain. Fifty adult participants will be recruited via a number of different sources. Baseline outcome measures including self reported function; objective physical activity levels; fear-avoidance beliefs and health-related quality of life will be recorded. Eligible participants will be randomly allocated under strict, double blind conditions to one of two treatments groups. Participants in group A will receive a single education and advice session with a physiotherapist based on the content of the 'Back Book'. Participants in group B will receive the same education and advice session. In addition, they will also receive a graded pedometer-driven walking programme prescribed by the physiotherapist. Follow up outcomes will be recorded by the same researcher, who will remain blinded to group allocation, at eight weeks and six months post randomisation. A qualitative exploration of participants' perception of walking will also be examined by use of focus groups at the end of the intervention. As a feasibility study, treatment effects will be represented by point estimates and confidence intervals. The assessment of participant satisfaction will be tabulated, as will adherence levels and any recorded difficulties or adverse events experienced by the participants or therapists. This information will be used to modify the planned interventions to be used in a larger randomised controlled trial. This paper describes the rationale and design of a study which will test the feasibility of using a structured, pedometer-driven walking programme in participants with chronic low back pain. [ISRCTN67030896].
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
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    • "(vii) Objective physical activity levels using an activPal™ device: a valid and reliable measure of walking that is capable of recording steps, time spent lying/sitting, standing and stepping under free living conditions [49] previously used by some of the authors in another LBP trial [50]. A sample of convenience of participants from each group will be requested to wear the activPAL™ on 3 separate occasions each lasting 7 days (1) at baseline, (2) 3 months and (3) 6 months after initial randomisation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a persistent disabling condition with rising significant healthcare, social and economic costs. Current research supports the use of exercise-based treatment approaches that encourage people with CLBP to assume a physically active role in their recovery. While international clinical guidelines and systematic reviews for CLBP support supervised group exercise as an attractive first-line option for treating large numbers of CLBP patients at low cost, barriers to their delivery include space and time restrictions in healthcare settings and poor patient attendance. The European Clinical Guidelines have identified the need for research in the use of brief/minimal contact self-activation interventions that encourage participation in physical activity for CLBP. Walking may be an ideally suited form of individualized exercise prescription as it is easy to do, requires no special skills or facilities, and is achievable by virtually all ages with little risk of injury, but its effectiveness for LBP is unproven. This study will be an assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial that will investigate the difference in clinical effectiveness and costs of an individualized walking programme and a supervised general exercise programme compared to usual physiotherapy, which will act as the control group, in people with chronic low back pain. A sample of 246 patients will be recruited in Dublin, Ireland through acute general hospital outpatient physiotherapy departments that provide treatment for people with CLBP. Patients will be randomly allocated to one of the three groups in a concealed manner. The main outcomes will be functional disability, pain, quality of life, fear avoidance, back beliefs, physical activity, satisfaction and costs, which will be evaluated at baseline, and 3, 6 and 12 months [follow-up by pre-paid postage]. Qualitative telephone interviews and focus groups will be embedded in the research design to obtain feedback about participants' experiences of the interventions and trial participation, and to inform interpretation of the quantitative data. Planned analysis will be by intention to treat (quantitative data) and thematic analysis (qualitative data) The trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a walking programme and a supervised general exercise programme compared to usual physiotherapy in people with CLBP. Current controlled trial ISRCTN17592092.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

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