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Lowe C.,Queen's University | Aiken A.,Queen's University | Day A.G.,Biostatician Kingston General Hospital Kingston | Depew W.,Queen's University | Vanner S.J.,Queen's University
Neurogastroenterology and Motility | Year: 2017

Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients increasingly seek out acupuncture therapy to alleviate symptoms, but it is unclear whether the benefit is due to a treatment-specific effect or a placebo response. This study examined whether true acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture in relieving IBS symptoms and whether benefits were linked to purported acupuncture mechanisms. Methods: A double blind sham controlled acupuncture study was conducted with Rome I IBS patients receiving twice weekly true acupuncture for 4 weeks (n=43) or sham acupuncture (n=36). Patients returned at 12 weeks for a follow-up review. The primary endpoint of success as determined by whether patients met or exceeded their established goal for percentage symptom improvement. Questionnaires were completed for symptom severity scores, SF-36 and IBS-36 QOL tools, McGill pain score, and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index. A subset of patients underwent barostat measurements of rectal sensation at baseline and 4 weeks. Key Results: A total of 53% in the true acupuncture group met their criteria for a successful treatment intervention, but this did not differ significantly from the sham group (42%). IBS symptom scores similarly improved in both groups. Scores also improved in the IBS-36, SF-36, and the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, but did not differ between groups. Rectal sensory thresholds were increased in both groups following treatment and pain scores decreased; however, these changes were similar between groups. Conclusions & Inferences: The lack of differences in symptom outcomes between sham and true treatment acupuncture suggests that acupuncture does not have a specific treatment effect in IBS. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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