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      Motion style acupuncture therapy for shoulder pain: a randomized controlled trial

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          Strategies for preventing the persistence of pain and disability beyond the acute phase in shoulder pain patients are critically needed. Conventional acupuncture therapy (CAT) or motion style acupuncture therapy (MSAT) alone results in relative improvements in painful conditions in shoulder pain patients; combined interventions may have more global effects. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of MSAT vs CAT for shoulder pain.


          A randomized controlled trial using a factorial design was conducted from January 2014 to December 2015. Patients with a primary complaint of one-sided shoulder pain participated at three study sites. Eligible individuals were randomly assigned to receive MSAT plus minimal CAT (mCAT), CAT plus minimal MSAT (mMSAT), MSAT plus CAT, or mMSAT plus mCAT for 6 weeks in a 1:1:1:1 ratio. The primary outcome was change in shoulder pain intensity (measured using visual analog scale). The secondary outcomes included change in function of the shoulder joint (Constant–Murley score) and the health-related quality of life (Short Form-36 Health Survey). Moreover, perceived credibility of acupuncture was measured using the Treatment Credibility Scale. The outcomes were assessed at baseline and at 6, 10, and 18 weeks after randomization. Analysis of covariance with the baseline score adjustment had been used to determine the primary end point. The between-group differences of MSAT vs mMSAT and CAT vs mCAT were estimated, respectively, after tests of interaction between the two-dimensional interventions. All main analyses followed the intention-to-treat principle.


          A total of 164 patients completed the study. MSAT was superior to mMSAT in alleviating pain intensity at 10 weeks ( P=0.024), and it was maintained for 18 weeks ( P=0.013). Statistically significant differences were found when comparing MSAT with mMSAT for improvement in shoulder function (6 weeks, P=0.01; 10 weeks, P=0.006; and 18 weeks, P=0.01), physical health (10 weeks, P=0.023 and 18 weeks, P=0.015), and mental health (18 weeks, P=0.05). No significant differences were found in CAT when compared with mCAT.


          After 18 weeks of treatment, pain and joint functions are improved more with MSAT than with minimal motion style acupuncture or conventional acupuncture in patients with shoulder pain.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomised clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups

          Objectives To study the analgesic effect of acupuncture and placebo acupuncture and to explore whether the type of the placebo acupuncture is associated with the estimated effect of acupuncture. Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of three armed randomised clinical trials. Data sources Cochrane Library, Medline, Embase, Biological Abstracts, and PsycLIT. Data extraction and analysis Standardised mean differences from each trial were used to estimate the effect of acupuncture and placebo acupuncture. The different types of placebo acupuncture were ranked from 1 to 5 according to assessment of the possibility of a physiological effect, and this ranking was meta-regressed with the effect of acupuncture. Data synthesis Thirteen trials (3025 patients) involving a variety of pain conditions were eligible. The allocation of patients was adequately concealed in eight trials. The clinicians managing the acupuncture and placebo acupuncture treatments were not blinded in any of the trials. One clearly outlying trial (70 patients) was excluded. A small difference was found between acupuncture and placebo acupuncture: standardised mean difference −0.17 (95% confidence interval −0.26 to −0.08), corresponding to 4 mm (2 mm to 6 mm) on a 100 mm visual analogue scale. No statistically significant heterogeneity was present (P=0.10, I2=36%). A moderate difference was found between placebo acupuncture and no acupuncture: standardised mean difference −0.42 (−0.60 to −0.23). However, considerable heterogeneity (P<0.001, I2=66%) was also found, as large trials reported both small and large effects of placebo. No association was detected between the type of placebo acupuncture and the effect of acupuncture (P=0.60). Conclusions A small analgesic effect of acupuncture was found, which seems to lack clinical relevance and cannot be clearly distinguished from bias. Whether needling at acupuncture points, or at any site, reduces pain independently of the psychological impact of the treatment ritual is unclear.
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            Acupuncture analgesia: a review of its mechanisms of actions.

            The mechanism of acupuncture analgesia (AA) has been widely explored since the 1970s. Early studies investigated the relationship between acupuncture and endogenous opiates (beta-endorphin, enkephalin, endomorphin and dynorphin). Before the 1990s, most experts agreed on the concept that in normal animal models, lower frequency electroacupuncture (EA) stimulates the release of beta-endorphin, enkephalin and endomorphin, which in turn activates the mu- and delta-opioid receptors, and that higher frequency EA stimulates dynorphin which activates the kappa-opioid receptor. Besides endogenous opiates, our studies have focused on serotonin. The serotoninergic descending inhibitory pathway is suggested to be an important mechanism of acupuncture analgesic, collaborating with endogenous opiates. Many efforts have been made to clarify these mechanisms, but to date no satisfactory consensus has been reached. In the late 1990s, researchers began to focus on the different analgesic effects of EA between normal and hyperalgesic animal models. Published data from these studies imply that normal and hyperalgesic animals respond differently to EA. Results from experiments on the anti-hyperalgesia effect of EA have raised a new issue about the influences of EA on receptors to excitatory amino acid in the spinal cord level. Results from various studies have shown that these receptors play a role in the mechanism of AA. Recently, research on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) seem to indicate its connection with acupuncture. The inflammatory reflex (via the ANS) might be a crucial part of anti-hyperalgesia elicited by acupuncture, and this reflex, which regulates the immune system in the organism, can elucidate not only the mechanism of AA but also the mechanism of acupuncture applied to other inflammatory conditions. Innovation of functional image study enables us to analyze the responses of cortex on living human body to acupuncture. However, results of these experiments are still controversial. After 30 years of acupuncture research, there are still many puzzles left to be solved regarding the mechanism of AA.
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              Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on mu-opioid receptors (MORs).

              Controversy remains regarding the mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia. A prevailing theory, largely unproven in humans, is that it involves the activation of endogenous opioid antinociceptive systems and mu-opioid receptors (MORs). This is also a neurotransmitter system that mediates the effects of placebo-induced analgesia. This overlap in potential mechanisms may explain the lack of differentiation between traditional acupuncture and either non-traditional or sham acupuncture in multiple controlled clinical trials. We compared both short- and long-term effects of traditional Chinese acupuncture (TA) versus sham acupuncture (SA) treatment on in vivo MOR binding availability in chronic pain patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM). Patients were randomized to receive either TA or SA treatment over the course of 4 weeks. Positron emission tomography (PET) with (11)C-carfentanil was performed once during the first treatment session and then repeated a month later following the eighth treatment. Acupuncture therapy evoked short-term increases in MOR binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions including the cingulate (dorsal and subgenual), insula, caudate, thalamus, and amygdala. Acupuncture therapy also evoked long-term increases in MOR binding potential in some of the same structures including the cingulate (dorsal and perigenual), caudate, and amygdala. These short- and long-term effects were absent in the sham group where small reductions were observed, an effect more consistent with previous placebo PET studies. Long-term increases in MOR BP following TA were also associated with greater reductions in clinical pain. These findings suggest that divergent MOR processes may mediate clinically relevant analgesic effects for acupuncture and sham acupuncture.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                25 September 2018
                : 11
                : 2039-2050
                [1 ]Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Beijing100010, China
                [2 ]Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Huairou District Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing 101400, China
                [3 ]Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Dongzhimen Hospital, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing100010, China
                [4 ]Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Dongfang Hospital, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100078, China, lcz623780@ 123456126.com
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Cun-Zhi Liu, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Dongfang Hospital, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, No. 6 Fangxingyuan 1st Block, Fengtai District, Beijing 100078, China, Tel/fax +86 10 6767 8865, Email lcz623780@ 123456126.com
                © 2018 Shi et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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