Treatment regimens of acupuncture for low back pain--a systematic review.

J Yuan, D Kerr, J Park, X H Liu, S McDonough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the difference in acupuncture treatment regimens for low back pain (LBP) among textbooks, clinical studies and clinical practice, and explore reasons for such differences. METHODS: A systematic review of textbooks, surveys, clinical studies (randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and case studies) published in English or Chinese, was conducted, plus Chinese expert opinions. Data on detailed acupuncture treatment regimens were extracted. RESULTS: 12 textbooks in English, 31 textbooks in Chinese, 3 surveys in English, no surveys in Chinese, 9 Chinese expert opinions, 25 RCTs in English, 29 RCTs in Chinese, and 38 case studies in English were included. For chronic non-specific LBP, the outstanding differences in regimens found were (irrespective of the approach of acupuncture): (i) clinical studies and surveys (9-11 points) reported the use of many more points per session than Chinese experts (5 points); (ii) two extreme frequencies of treatments were used across all sources (1-2 times/week vs. 5-6 times/week). For acute LBP, the notable differences between RCTs and case studies were: (i) a variety of special points were investigated; (ii) case studies reported the use of many more points per session (10 points) than RCTs in Chinese (2 points); (iii) RCTs in Chinese administrated more treatments (6.5 sessions) than RCTs in English (3.5 sessions) and case studies (3 sessions). CONCLUSION: For non-specific LBP, treatment regimens of acupuncture differ by the types of reference sources, in terms of treatment frequency, the points chosen, number of points needled per session, duration and sessions, and co-interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-304
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2008


  • Acupuncture
  • Low back pain
  • Systematic review
  • Treatment regimens


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