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Acupuncture was better than no acupuncture but did not differ from minimal (sham) acupuncture for chronic low back pain at 8 weeks

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Q In patients with chronic low back pain, is acupuncture better than minimal (sham) or no acupuncture for reducing pain?


Embedded ImageDesign:

randomised controlled trial (Acupuncture Randomised Trial in Low Back Pain).

Embedded ImageAllocation:


Embedded ImageBlinding:

blinded (patients who received acupuncture and minimal acupuncture).

Embedded ImageFollow up period:

8 weeks.

Embedded ImageSetting:

30 private practices and hospital outpatient units in Germany.

Embedded ImagePatients:

301 patients 40–75 years of age (mean age 59 y, 68% women) who had chronic low back pain for >6 months, mean pain intensity ⩾40 on a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS) in the previous 7 days, and used only oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the 4 weeks before treatment. Exclusion criteria were protrusion or prolapse of ⩾1 intervertebral disc and neurological symptoms; radicular pain; previous vertebral column surgery; infectious spondylopathy; …

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  • For correspondence: Dr B Brinkhaus, Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany. benno.brinkhaus{at}

  • Source of funding: German Social Health Insurance Companies.