Listed in Issue 112


SATOR-KATZENSCHLAGER and colleagues, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine (B), Outpatient Pain Center, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,, have assessed the short- and long term benefit in chronic low back pain of electrical versus manual ear acupuncture.


Electrical stimulation of acupuncture points is thought to increase the analgesic effect of the acupuncture. This study aimed to compare ear acupuncture with and without electrical stimulation in the treatment of chronic back pain.


In this randomized controlled double-blinded study, 61 patients with insufficiently controlled chronic low back pain were randomized to receive continuous low-frequency auricular electroacupuncture or sham electrical auricular acupuncture. Treatment was once a week for 6 weeks. Patients were followed up for 3 months. Psychological wellbeing, physical activity, sleep quality and pain intensity were measured, as well as the consumption of analgesic medicines.


Pain relief was significantly better in the treatment group than in the control group. Psychological wellbeing, sleep quality and activity levels were better, the consumption of analgesics was reduced, and more patients returned to full-time employment in the treatment group compared to the control group. Neuropathic pain in particular improved markedly in patients treated with electroacupuncture. There were no adverse effects.


Continuous electrical stimulation of auricular acupuncture points using the new point stimulation device P-stim produces marked improvements in chronic low back pain in terms of pain intensity, physical and psychological wellbeing, and sleep quality.


Sator-Katzenschlager SM, Scharbert G, Kozek-Langenecker SA, Szeles JC, Finster G, Schiesser AW, Heinze G, Kress HG. The short- and long-term benefit in chronic low back pain through adjuvant electrical versus manual auricular acupuncture. Anesthesia and Analgesia 98 (5): 1359-1364, May 2004.


The above acupuncture study from Austria will be encouraging news for patients suffering from back pain and neuropathic pain, both of which were markedly improved with electroacupuncture.

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