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Open Access Study protocol

Acupuncture at local and distal points for chronic shoulder pain: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Qing-Nan Fu12, Guang-Xia Shi1, Qian-Qian Li1, Tian He1, Bao-Zhen Liu3, San-Feng Sun3, Jun Wang4, Cheng Tan4, Bo-Feng Yang1 and Cun-Zhi Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine affiliated to Capital Medical University, 23 Meishuguanhou Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100010, China

2 Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jingshi Street, Lixia District, Jinan 250014, China

3 Beijing Huairou District Hospital of Chinese Medicine, 1 Houheng Street jia, Huairou District, Beijing 101400, China

4 Dongzhimen Hospital Affiliated to Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 5 Haiyuncang, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100010, China

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Trials 2014, 15:130  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-130

Published: 17 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Chronic shoulder pain (CSP) is the third most common type of musculoskeletal pain. It has a major impact on health-related quality of life. In Chinese medicine, CSP is considered one of the conditions most amenable to treatment with acupuncture. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of local acupoints in combination with distal acupoints in pain relief and shoulder function improvement in CSP patients.

Methods/Design

This is a multicenter, single blind, factorial randomized controlled clinical trial. A total of 164 participants will be randomly allocated to four different groups: Group A will receive acupuncture at local acupoints in combination with distal acupoint. Group B will receive acupuncture at local acupoints in combination with distal non-acupoint. Group C will receive acupuncture at local non-acupoints in combination with distal acupoint. Group D will receive acupuncture at local non-acupoints in combination with distal non-acupoint. Each group will receive 12 treatments of acupuncture one to three times per week for six weeks in total. The primary outcome is shoulder pain intensity, which is graded using a 100 -mm Visual Analogue Scale. The assessment is at baseline (before treatment initiation), 6 weeks after the first acupuncture, 10 weeks after the first acupuncture and 18 weeks after the first acupuncture.

Discussion

This trial will be helpful in identifying whether acupuncture at local acupoints in combination with distal acupoints may be more effective than needling points separately.

Trial registration

International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number Register: ISRCTN61861069 (http://www.controlled-trials.com webcite).