Acupuncture/ pressureHeadache/MigraineOsteoarthritisPain-BackPain-KneePain-Neck

Predictors of a positive response to acupuncture for chronic pain

Researchers in Germany searched the records from almost 10,000 patients for predictors of a positive response.

First, the details.

  • 9,990 patients with chronic low back pain, headache, neck pain, or pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Routine care
    • Acupuncture in addition to routine care
  • The 3-month change based on the SF-36 bodily pain subscale was recorded.
  • Patients’ characteristics and their interaction with treatment were reviewed to determine their effect on treatment outcomes.

And, the results.

  • The outcome was significantly improved in the acupuncture group.
  • Predictors of outcome in both treatment groups:
    • Age
    • Education
    • Duration of illness
    • Baseline pain
    • Certain concomitant diseases
  • Patient characteristics significantly associated with a positive response to the acupuncture effect:
    • Previous positive acupuncture experience
    • Failure of other therapies before the study
    • Living in a multi-person household
    • Female

The bottom line?

The authors come to no definitive conclusions, except to recommend more research.

I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that past experience with acupuncture, frustration due to failed past therapy, and peer pressure to have a positive experience are factors that influence satisfaction with acupuncture in patients with chronic pain.

6/29/11 22:08 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.