Integrative Acupuncture and Spinal Manipulative Therapy Versus Either Alone for Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial Feasibility Study

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The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of conducting a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining whether an integrative care model combining spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and acupuncture can lead to better outcomes for low back pain (LBP) than either therapy alone.


This study was conducted at a complementary and alternative medicine university health center. Participants with acute or chronic LBP were randomized to (1) acupuncture, (2) SMT, or (3) integrative acupuncture and SMT groups. Treatments were provided over 60 days by licensed doctors of chiropractic and acupuncturists. Acupuncture treatments consisted of needling of acupoints combined with electrotherapy, moxibustion, cupping, and Tui Na. SMT used specific contact points on vertebral processes, along with soft tissue therapy and physiotherapy. Primary outcome measures were the Roland-Morris LBP Disability Questionnaire and 0 to 10 Numeric Rating Scale for LBP.


Participants in all 3 groups experienced clinically meaningful improvements in the primary outcome measures; however, no between-group differences in outcomes were apparent.


This study indicated that it is feasible to conduct an RCT to compare the effectiveness of integrative acupuncture and SMT for LBP to either therapy alone. Future studies should include a larger sample to increase the power for detecting clinically meaningful differences between groups.

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