The Anti-Inflammatory Actions of Auricular Point Acupressure for Chronic Low Back Pain

Wei Chun Lin, Chao Hsing Yeh, Lung Chang Chien, Natalia E. Morone, Ronald M. Glick, Kathryn M. Albers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background. Auricular point acupressure (APA) is a promising treatment for pain management. Few studies have investigated the physiological mechanisms of APA analgesics. Method. In this pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT), a 4-week APA treatment was used to manage chronic low back pain (CLBP). Sixty-one participants were randomized into a real APA group (n=32) or a sham APA group (n=29). Blood samples, pain intensity, and physical function were collected at baseline and after 4 weeks of treatment. Results. Subjects in the real APA group reported a 56% reduction of pain intensity and a 26% improvement in physical function. Serum blood samples showed (1) a decrease in IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, and calcitonin gene-related peptide [CGRP] and (2) an increase in IL-4. In contrast, subjects in the sham APA group (1) reported a 9% reduction in pain and a 2% improvement in physical function and (2) exhibited minimal changes of inflammatory cytokines and neuropeptides. Statistically significant differences in IL-4 and CGRP expression between the real and sham APA groups were verified. Conclusion. These findings suggest that APA treatment affects pain intensity through modulation of the immune system, as reflected by APA-induced changes in serum inflammatory cytokine and neuropeptide levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103570
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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