Research: BULLOCK and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 46


BULLOCK and colleagues, Center for Addiction and Alternative Medicine Research, Department of Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, and the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine, Minneapolis 55415 USA MLBULL@SPRINTMAIL.COM write that musculoskeletal (MSk) disorders are among the more common conditions for which patients seek relief . Whereas nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs are the conventional treatment of choice, more patients are now turning to complementary/alternative medicine (CAM). The authors conducted an evaluation study of MSk patients treated in a hospital-based outpatient clinic providing acupuncture and other alternative modalities .



797 patients at the CAM clinic completed a structured questionnaire regarding demographic health history, as well as the nature and severity of their health complaints. One month following this baseline measurement and beginning CAM treatment, patients rated their complaint severity, improvement in their condition being treated and helpfulness of the CAM treatments. Of the 797 patients, 398 were treated for MSk complaints.


At 1-month follow-up, severity of primary complaints decreased an average of 2 points on a 10-point numerical scale. 30% of patients reported reduction of severity by 50% or more of baseline. Self-reported improvement and severity change were moderately correlated; however baseline severity was inversely related to therapeutic helpfulness. Improvement increased with number of treatment, although due to time constraints, treatment frequency was limited.


Almost 50% of the clinic patients sought relief for MSk complaints. Acupuncture treatment provided significant improvement of presenting symptoms within a short time period. These results contribute toward a consensus opinion that Cam therapies help to alleviate the pain and discomfort of MSk disorders.


Bullock ML et al. Short-term outcomes of treatment for musculoskeletal disorders in a hospital-based alternative and complementary medicine clinic. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 5(3): 253-60 June 1999.  

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