The Treatment of Chronic Shoulder Pain with Wrist-Ankle Acupuncture

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Wrist-ankle acupuncture (WAA) is considered a useful technique in the treatment of several painful conditions, but its real effectiveness has rarely been quantified. In order to evaluate the effects of WAA on localised pain, 25 consecutive patients (17 male, 8 female; 61.8 yr. ± 1.5 SE) with chronic shoulder pain were treated with needle insertion in acupoints Upper Four, Five and Six (retained for 24 hours) for six sessions over four weeks. Pain intensity (PI) and quality (PQ) and active shoulder motility (ASM) were evaluated during the intervention and after a three-week follow up (FU). During the course of treatment, PI decreased and ASM increased significantly (p<0.001), while PQ remained substantially unchanged, although quantitatively reduced. A significant negative correlation was found between ASM and PI in the different phases of treatment (p<0.001), indicating a substantial influence of subjective pain on functional motor limitation. At FU, a further significant increase in ASM value (p<0.001) and a decrease (not statistically significant) in PI were observed. Overall, three patients (13.6%) attained complete pain resolution, and in six (30%) a full functional recovery was achieved. All observed changes were independent of gender, age, pain localisation, clinical history and acupuncturist performing the treatment. In conclusion, WAA appears an effective treatment of chronic shoulder pain, achieving significant pain and motor impairment reduction.

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Author Claudio L. Lafortuna and Elisa Rossi
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