Acupuncture effect on thermal tolerance and electrical pain threshold: a randomised controlled trial.

Author: Amand M, Nguyen-Huu F, Balestra C.
Department of Environmental & Occupational Physiology, Haute École Paul-Henri Spaak, I.S.E.K. (Institut Supérieur d'Ergothérapie et de Kinésithérapie), Brussels, Belgium.
Conference/Journal: Acupunct Med.
Date published: 2010 Dec 7
Other: Word Count: 217

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to test whether acupuncture could modify the threshold of tolerance to thermal and electrical stimuli.

METHODS: A randomised placebo-controlled single-blind trial was conducted in 36 healthy volunteers randomly distributed to control (no treatment), conventional acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups. The subjects were blind to the group allocation. The authors measured before and after treatment the pain threshold with the Painmatcher (Cefar Medical AB, Lund, Sweden) and the cold tolerance with the cold pressor test, together with the Visual Analogue Scale pain score.

RESULTS: Electrical stimulation threshold and cold pressor tolerance both increased significantly in the control and the true acupuncture groups, but not the sham group. The changes in the true acupuncture group were highly statistically significant and amounted to 24% (pain threshold) and 44% (cold tolerance) increases in threshold. The changes in the true group were significantly greater than the control group but not significantly different from the sham group. The changes in the sham and control groups were not significantly different from each other.

CONCLUSION: Acupuncture at true, appropriate points was more effective than no intervention in raising pain threshold and tolerance in volunteers, and acupuncture at inappropriate points had an intermediate effect which was not significantly different from either. Thus acupuncture analgesia may not be a point specific effect.

PMID: 21139035