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, â€œSingle-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.â€
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.