There has been a great deal of controversy over the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain related conditions. Can acupuncture stop shoulder pain? A randomized, blinded, patient-blinded, multi-center research report published its conclusions. Researchers at Ruhr-University Bochum (Orthopedic Surgery and Research) conclude that acupuncture is an effective alternative to conventional orthopedic treatments for chronic shoulder pain.

The specifics of the results draw clear demarcations. A total of 424 patients were studied in 31 orthopedist offices. Each received 15 treatments over a period of 6 weeks. The orthopedists were trained in acupuncture and administered the acupuncture treatments. Three groups were compared. The first group of patients received textbook acupuncture (verum acupuncture). The next group received non-relevant needle puncture (sham acupuncture).

The final group received conventional orthopedic care. Results were tabulated immediately are the series of treatments and another follow-up was performed three months after completion of the acupuncture series of treatments. Results showed greater range of motion including abduction and arm-above-head-test for the acupuncture group over the sham and orthopedic groups. Pain level reductions were also assessed.

Three Month Follow-Up The verum acupuncture group had a 65 percent recovery rate. The sham acupuncture group had a 24 percent recovery rate, and the orthopedic group had a 37 percent recovery rate measured three months following the cessation of acupuncture care. Immediate Follow-Up The verum acupuncture group had a 68 percent recovery rate. The sham acupuncture group had a 40 percent recovery rate, and the orthopedic group had a 28 percent recovery rate measured immediately following the cessation of acupuncture care. In both cases, the patients receiving acupuncture demonstrated the most clinically significant recovery rates.

Reference: Pain. 2010 Oct;151(1):146-54. Epub 2010 Jul 23. German Randomized Acupuncture Trial for chronic shoulder pain (GRASP) - a pragmatic, controlled, patient-blinded, multi-centre trial in an outpatient care environment. Molsberger AF, Schneider T, Gotthardt H, Drabik A.