Acupressure was effective in reducing low-back pain, with effects lasting for six months, in a National Taiwan University study.

“Treatment of Low Back Pain by Acupressure and Physical Therapy: Randomised Controlled Trial” evaluated the effectiveness of acupressure in terms of disability, pain scores and functional status. The study compared acupressure with physical therapy in alleviating low-back pain.

At an orthopedic clinic in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 129 patients with chronic low-back pain were selected randomly to be treated with acupressure or physical therapy. Each participant received six sessions of treatment in one month. The acupressure group received a standardized treatment performed by one therapist. The physical-therapy group received the clinic’s routine physical therapy, which included pelvic manual traction, spinal manipulation, thermotherapy, infrared light therapy, electrical stimulation and exercise therapy, as chosen by the physical therapist.

Three self-administered questionnaires were used to measure outcomes: Roland and Morris disability questionnaire, Oswestry disability questionnaire, and core-outcome measures and visual analog scale. These were administered at baseline, after treatment, and at a six-month follow-up.

The mean total Roland and Morris disability questionnaire score after treatment was significantly lower in the acupressure group than in the physical-therapy group; acupressure conferred an 89 percent reduction in significant disability compared with physical therapy. This improvement remained at the six-month follow-up. Statistically significant differences also occurred between the two groups in the core outcome, pain visual scale, and modified Oswestry disability questionnaire after treatment and at six-month follow-up.

The authors state that “[t]his study shows that acupressure is more efficacious in alleviating low-back pain than is physical therapy…” and that “[a]cupressure may thus be useful for reducing pain and improving body function and level of disability in low-back pain.”

Source: National Taiwan University, Taipei. Authors: Lisa Li-Chen Hsieh, Chung-Hung Kuo, Liang Huei Lee, Amy Ming-Fang Yen, Kuo-Liong Chien and Tony Hsiu-Hsi Chen. Originally published in BMJ [British Medical Journal], Vol. 332, No. 7543, March 25, 2006, pp. 696-700.