Motion style acupuncture treatment (MSAT) is a relatively unknown and novel form of acupuncture in the West. It has been used in Korea for the treatment of pain in the musculoskeletal regions that limit movement, especially lower back pain.
In MSAT, slender acupuncture needles are stuck into proper acupoints that require assisted motion of the affected area. Past studies have already proven the success of acupuncture for lower back pain. But comparing acupuncture’s ability to improve mobility and address acute lower back pain had not been compared to non-chiropractic western modes of treatment
The Korean trial
In 2011 Korean researchers conducted a controlled, randomized, clinical trial dealing with motion style acupuncture treatment for acute low back pain with severe disability in Austin.
The trial was done to see whether acupuncture can satisfactorily resolve acute lower back pain without any side effect. Acupuncture is considered by many as a much better and less costly way for helping back pain patients to work with better functionality.
The trial subjects were chosen from both the Bucheon Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine in Bucheon, Korea and Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine in Seoul, Korea. The patients, whose ages ranged from to 20 – 60, were suffering from severe lower back pain for less than a month.
Patients who were allergic to NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) as well as those suffering from long-term vertebral or neurological damage were not included in the study. Also excluded were patients currently taking corticosteroid medications, pregnant women, and cancer patients.
These exclusions were both meant to lessen the potential for unclear or mixed test outcomes and to protect the patients who were vulnerable to possible hazards.
This double-blind randomized study obviously was blind to the researchers who performed the test for ROM (range of motion) and pain for all the subjects each time after therapy, although it could not be blind to the acupuncturists or patients.
The control group was treated with NSAID. The drug used was diclofenac, a painkiller (analgesic) and anti-inflammatory. It was injected intramuscularly and is often used for musculoskeletal or joint inflammation and pain and other inflammatory and painful conditions.
Diclofenac injections have typical side effects that include sleepiness, dizziness, gastrointestinal discomfort, vision problems, and headaches, clearly undesirable side effects, if you desire better functionality.
Acupuncture treatment rarely has any side effects. What was being put to task in this trial was the effectiveness of MSAT over NSAID injections.
Those who were treated with MSAT were assisted standing on both sides by wrapping their arms around the shoulders of the clinician while another clinician stuck needles based on the standards espoused by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
While the needles remained stuck in their body, the MSAT-treated patients were aided in walking. The aid was gradually reduced until the patient could walk without assistance without great pain as the pain slowly ebbed. The procedure showed with immediate results and typically took 20 minutes.
Measuring ROM and pain levels half an hour after treatments was fair since a diclofenac injection usually takes 20 minutes for complete plasma saturation. Again, those evaluating the effects were blind to what type of treatment each patient was given.
Results of the trial
The PGIC (patient global impression of change) was the questionnaire method used to both measure changes in the level of ROM and pain. The PGIC was originally used for psychiatric purposes although these days, it is also used for other medical testing. This questionnaire has seven levels basically ranging to much worse from very improved.
The first evaluation conducted before treatment was baseline. Then the evaluation timing was half an hour after treatment, and follow-up evaluation after two, four, and twenty four weeks after treatments.
The patients treated with acupuncture showed a 32.95% greater decrease in Oswestry Disability Index score and a 3.12-point decrease in pain based on the 10-point rating scale, compared to the subjects treated with diclofenac injection.
The researchers concluded that the outcomes indicate that there are immediate positive effects with MSAT treatment for lower back pain such as the functional recovery of acute lower back pain sufferers with severe disability and an immediate relief of their pain.