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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Acupucture in the treatment of scoliosis – a single blind controlled pilot study

Hans-Rudolf Weiss*, Silvia Bohr, Anja Jahnke and Sandra Pleines

Author Affiliations

Asklepios Katharina Schroth Spinal Deformities Rehabilitation Centre, Korczakstrasse 2, D-55566 Bad Sobernheim, Germany

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Scoliosis 2008, 3:4  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-3-4

Published: 28 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Today, acupuncture therapy is commonly used for pain control throughout the world, although the putative mechanisms are still unclear. A Pub Med search for the key words "Acupuncture" and "Scoliosis" reveals 3 papers only, not containing any results of studies designed for the treatment of scoliosis with the help of acupuncture. Because of this lack of trials especially designed for the treatment of scoliosis this pilot study has been performed.

Methods

24 girls undergoing in-patient rehabilitation, 14 – 16 years of age (at average 15,1 years, SD 0,74) with the diagnosis of an Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) have agreed to take part in this controlled single blind crossover study. Average Cobb angle was 33 degrees (SD 9,2) ranging from 16 to 49 degrees. 10 of the girls had a thoracic, one a lumbar, 7 a double major and 6 a thoracolumbar curve pattern. The patients have been scanned with the Formetric® surface topography measurement system before and after lying on the left side [L], before and after sham acupuncture [S] and before and after real acupuncture [R].

Results

For the whole group of patients no significant changes have been found during lying, sham acupuncture or real acupuncture. There were no differences between the patient groups with different curve pattern. In the explorative subgroup analysis of Patients with curvatures from 16 to 35 degrees, however significant changes in surface rotation have been found after R intervention as well as a strong differences in lateral deviation while in the L or S intervention no real changes have been achieved.

Conclusion

One session with real (verum) acupuncture seems to have an influence on the deformity of scoliosis patients with no more than 35 degrees. The findings during verum acupuncture clearly are different to sham acupuncture or just lying, while in the whole group of patients also including patients with curvatures of more than 35 degrees no obvious changes have been found. The results of this study justify further investigation of the effect of acupuncture in the treatment of patients with scoliosis.