German randomized acupuncture trial for chronic shoulder pain (GRASP) – A pragmatic, controlled, patient-blinded, multi-centre trial in an outpatient care environment.
An article in Pain examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic shoulder pain (CSP). Participants were comprised of 424 patients with CSP (characterized by six or more months of pain and a VAS score of 50mm or greater). Random assignment placed each patient into traditional acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or conventional orthopedic treatment. The patients were blind to the type of acupuncture, and received 15 treatments over six weeks. Visual Analog Scale measurements were taken at baseline, after six weeks of treatment, and three weeks post-treatment. Directly following treatment, ITT analysis revealed that the traditional acupuncture group yielded a 68% improvement, sham acupuncture 24%, and conventional 13 orthopedic treatment 28%. At the three month follow-up, VAS scores revealed the following improvements: traditional acupuncture 65%, sham acupuncture 24%, and conventional orthopedic treatment 37%. There is a statistical significance (p<0.01) for traditional acupuncture over both sham and conventional treatments both post-treatment and at follow-up. Descriptive statistics also presented greater improvements in shoulder mobility (as indicated by the abduction and arm above head test) with true acupuncture treatments compared to the control group. Increased shoulder mobility in the acupuncture group was present immediately following treatment and at the three month follow-up. This article suggests that acupuncture is a beneficial and feasible alternative to conservative treatment.
Molsberger, A., Schneider, T., Gotthardt, H., Drabik, A. (2010). German randomized acupuncture trial for chronic shoulder pain (GRASP) – A pragmatic, controlled, patient-blinded, multi-centre trial in an outpatient care environment. Pain, 151, 146-154.