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Simulated acupuncture and real acupuncture both reduced low back pain dysfunction and symptoms

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Study design


randomised controlled trial. NCT00065585.




blinded (diagnostician acupuncturist and interviewers).*

Study question


integrated healthcare systems in Washington and California, USA.


641 patients 18–70 years of age (mean age 47 y, 62% women) who were receiving care for uncomplicated, chronic low back pain in the past 3–12 months and had pain bothersomeness scores ⩾3 (0 to 10, extremely bothersome). Exclusion criteria included specific causes of back pain (eg, cancer, fractures), complicated back problems (eg, sciatica), conditions that might confound treatment effects or interpretation (eg, rheumatoid arthritis), or previous acupuncture.


individualised acupuncture (n = 157), standardised acupuncture (n = 158), simulated acupuncture (n = 162), or usual care (n = 161). Patients assigned to acupuncture received 10 treatments (twice weekly for 3 wks, …

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  • Source of funding: National Institutes of Health.