25 September 2018
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.