Researchers in Spain evaluated single-point acupuncture as an adjunct to physiotherapy to improve shoulder function in patients with unilateral subacromial syndrome.

First, the details.

  • 425 patients with unilateral subacromial syndrome (chronic bursitis, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears) were assigned to 15 sessions of physiotherapy.
  • During the 3 weeks of treatment, the patients were randomly assigned to once-a-week acupuncture or mock TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).
  • The primary outcome measure was a change in the Constant-Murley Score (CMS) for functional assessment of the shoulder at 4 weeks after randomization.
    • CMS includes a pain score, functional assessment, range of motion, and strength measures; and is the most commonly used assessment of shoulder disorders.

And, the results.

  • The average CMS increased by 17 points in the acupuncture-physiotherapy group vs 11 points in the control group — the difference between groups was significant.
  • By the end of the treatment, 53% of the patients in the acupuncture-physiotherapy group had decreased their consumption of pain medicine vs 30% in the control group — a significant difference.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Single-point acupuncture in association with physiotherapy improves shoulder function and alleviates pain, compared with physiotherapy as the sole treatment. This improvement is accompanied by a reduction in the consumption of analgesic medicaments.”

4/12/08 20:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.