Does Acupressure Hit the Mark? A Three-Arm Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Acupressure for Pain and Anxiety Relief in Athletes With Acute Musculoskeletal Sports Injuries

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Objectives:Injuries are a common consequence of sports and recreational activity. The optimal management of symptoms is a crucial element of sports injury management. Acupressure has previously been shown to effectively decrease symptoms of musculoskeletal injury, thus may be considered a potentially useful intervention in the management of sport-related injuries. Therefore, this study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of acupressure in decreasing pain and anxiety in acutely injured athletes.Design:A prospective 3-arm randomized placebo-controlled trial.Setting:A sports injury clinic, Dunedin, New Zealand.Patients:Seventy-nine athletes who sustained a sport-related musculoskeletal injury on the day.Intervention:Three minutes of either acupressure, sham acupressure, or no acupressure.Main Outcome Measures:The primary outcomes of pain and anxiety intensity were measured before and immediately after the intervention on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS). Pain and anxiety relief, satisfaction with treatment, willingness to repeat a similar treatment, and belief in the effect of acupressure were secondary outcomes measured on Likert scales after the intervention.Results:The acupressure group reported 11 mm less pain (95% CI: 5-17) on average than the sham acupressure group, and 9 mm less (95% CI: 3-16) than the control group as a result of the intervention (P < 0.05). There was no difference between groups in: anxiety levels, or in any of the secondary outcome measures.Conclusions:Three minutes of acupressure was effective in decreasing pain intensity in athletes who sustained an acute musculoskeletal sports injury when measured on the VAS, but did not change anxiety levels.

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