UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Temporal divergence of changes in pain and pain-free grip strength after manual acupuncture or electroacupuncture: an experimental study in people with lateral epicondylalgia Jeon, Jaewon; Bussin, Erin; Scott, Alex


Background: The objective of this study was to examine, in individuals with lateral epicondylalgia (LE), the acute time course of acupuncture-induced hypoalgesia and change in pain-free grip strength (PFGS). Methods: This was an experimental study, conducted at a single research center in Vancouver, BC. Twenty-one participants with unilateral LE lasting more than 6 weeks duration were enrolled. Participants received a single treatment of acupuncture (either electroacupuncture, 10–30 Hz, or manual acupuncture, assigned randomly). The primary outcome measure was pain level (0–10) during tendon loading (while making a fist) immediately after treatment, and over a 72 h follow-up period. Secondary outcome measures included pain-free grip strength (N). Results: There was a small but statistically significant reduction in participants’ perceived pain level immediately after acupuncture (mean improvement of 1.2, 95% CI 0.45–1.9). This change in pain was not accompanied by a change in PFGS. No difference was observed between the two types of acupuncture at any time point. Conclusions: The use of acupuncture or electroacupuncture, as administered in the current study, is unlikely to acutely enhance the ability of people with LE to engage in pain-free rehabilitation exercise. Trial registration Registered February 25, 2015. ISRCTN14667535, http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN14667535

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