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Acupressure shows promise for pain, fatigue reduction in people with low-back pain

04 Aug 2019

Self-administered acupressure may help relieve pain and reduce fatigue in patients with chronic low back pain, a study has shown.

The trial randomly assigned 67 patients (mean age, 50.1 years; 62.7 percent female) to treatment groups receiving relaxing acupressure, stimulating acupressure or usual care for 6 weeks. About 10 percent of the population reported taking opioids to control their pain, which also occurred in the neck, shoulders and hips.

Baseline characteristics did not significantly differ across the treatment groups. Participants had moderate fatigue (assessed using the Brief Fatigue Inventory) and pain (assessed using the Brief Pain Inventory). Sleep on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was generally poor, with 85 percent of patients having a score of >5, indicating significant sleep disturbance. Reported mean disability was 8.7 out of 24 points on the Roland Morris Scale.

An intent-to-treat analysis using general linear models revealed favourable changes in pain in the two acupressure groups vs the usual care group. Pain specifically decreased by 35–36 percent with acupressure.

Additionally, stimulating acupressure produced nominal reductions in fatigue compared with usual care.

Adverse events were minimal and occurred due to application of too much pressure.

The present data indicate that the acupressure protocol is feasible and well tolerated in patients with chronic low back pain, the researchers said. More studies with larger samples are required to confirm if self-administered acupressure is effective in reducing fatigue and pain in larger samples of people with chronic low back pain.

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