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Ear Acupuncture and Cupping Therapy: An Effective Alternative for Chronic Back Pain


Clinical trial results show that alternate therapies of ear acupuncture and cupping provide effective relief for chronic back pain

Chronic back pain can be debilitating, causing physical, functional, and emotional limitations. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long been used as an alternative treatment to manage chronic pain. Recently, a clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of ear acupuncture combined with cupping therapy on people with chronic back pain.

The study involved an open-label, randomized, parallel-group controlled clinical trial of 198 participants, who were randomly assigned to receive either ‘ear acupuncture’ or ‘ear acupuncture and cupping therapy’. Data were collected at three different points, before the first session (initial), after the last session (final), and seven days after the end of the treatment (follow-up).

The Brief Pain Inventory, a digital algometer, and the Rolland Morris Disability Questionnaire were used to collect data. The primary outcome was pain severity, and the association between the interventions and the primary outcome was examined using the Generalized Estimation Equation model.

The results showed that both groups experienced improvements in pain severity, pressure pain threshold, and physical disability over time. However, the group that received ear acupuncture and cupping therapy had more significant changes in pain severity, pain relief, and physical disabilities between the initial and final sessions. Moreover, significant changes were seen in pain relief and physical disability in the follow-up session for this group.

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The study concludes that ear acupuncture combined with cupping therapy is more effective in managing chronic back pain than ear acupuncture alone. This suggests that combining TCM interventions can provide better results for people with chronic back pain.

Ear acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific points on the ear to stimulate the body's natural healing process. Cupping therapy, on the other hand, uses cups placed on the skin to create suction, which can help increase blood flow and alleviate pain. Both of these techniques are based on the principles of TCM.

One of the strengths of this study is that it follows the CONSORT statement recommendations, which ensure that the study is reported transparently and accurately. This makes it easier for other researchers to replicate the study and validate the results.

The study also suggests that TCM interventions, such as ear acupuncture and cupping therapy, can be a viable alternative treatment option for people with chronic back pain. These interventions are non-invasive and have few side effects, making them a safer alternative to traditional pain management methods such as opioids.


Chronic back pain can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. TCM interventions such as ear acupuncture and cupping therapy can provide an effective alternative to traditional pain management methods. This study provides evidence that combining these interventions can provide better results than using only one. This suggests that a combination of TCM interventions may be the way forward in managing chronic back pain.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.