A large randomised trial in Germany, has shown acupuncture for shoulder pain to be an effective alternative to conventional orthopaedic treatment.
Researchers randomly assigned 424 patients to receive six weeks of traditional Chinese acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or conventional conservative orthopaedic treatment. At the end of the trial, the percentages of patients achieving at least a 50% reduction in pain score were: traditional acupuncture 68%; sham acupuncture 40%; orthopaedic treatment 28%.
At three month follow-up, the benefits of traditional Chinese acupuncture were even more marked: traditional acupuncture 65%; sham acupuncture 24%; orthopaedic treatment 37%. The traditional acupuncture group also exhibited greater improvement in shoulder mobility both immediately after treatment and at three month follow-up.
(German Randomised Acupuncture Trial for Chronic Shoulder Pain – A Pragmatic, Controlled, Patient-Blinded, Multi-Centre Trial in an Outpatient Care Environment. Pain Journal 2010. Epub ahead of print.)
Acupuncture has been found to provide relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis. Fifty-three patients were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture either at a point on the wrist traditionally considered to help heel pain, or as a control, at a point on the hand traditionally used for general pain relief. Treatment was given five times a week for two weeks. Both groups showed improvements, but the treatment group reported significantly greater reductions in morning pain, overall pain, and pressure pain threshold.
(Acupuncture Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomised Controlled Trial with Six Months Follow-up. Evidence Based Complementary & Alt Medicine Nov 2009.)
Researchers in Taiwan have found acupuncture for carpal tunnel syndrome is as effective as steroids in mild to moderate cases.
Seventy-seven patients were randomly assigned to receive either prednisolone for four weeks (20mg daily for two weeks then 10mg daily for two weeks), or acupuncture delivered in eight sessions over four weeks. Both groups showed considerable improvement, with no statistically significant difference between the two, but at week four, the acupuncture group showed a significant decrease in night time waking.
(Acupuncture in Patients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Clinical Journal of Pain, May 2009.)