Background: Acupuncture is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine which is used to treat an array of health conditions. This study evaluates the effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of restless leg syndrome.
Methods: A comprehensive literature survey was conducted in electronic databases to identify studies evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of restless leg syndrome. Cure, marked effect, effective, ineffective, and total effective rates of individual studies were pooled to achieve their respective overall estimates and a meta-analysis of mean change from baseline in International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale was performed.
Results: A total of 18 studies were included in this meta-analysis, among which 640 restless leg syndrome patients were treated with acupuncture alone or combined with other therapies (acupuncture group) and 447 restless leg syndrome patients were treated with non-acupuncture therapies (control group).
Cure, marked effect, and effective rates were 47.8% [95% confidence interval (CI): 38.3% to 57.3%], 27.4% (95% CI: 20.3% to 34.8%), and 24.2% (95% CI: 16.9% to 31.5%) in patients treated with acupuncture either alone or combination with other treatments, and 21.7% (95% CI: 20.7% to 22.7%), 28.0% (95% CI: 20.0% to 32.9%), and 22.3% (95% CI: 17.0% to 27.6%) in patients treated with non-acupuncture therapies, respectively. The ineffective rate was 4.7% (95% CI: 4.3% to 5.0%) in the acupuncture group and 32.9% (95% CI: 22.2% to 43.7%) in non-acupuncture groups. International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale scores improved significantly after acupuncture treatment [mean change from baseline -9.45 (95% CI: -18.42 to -0.49); P=0.04].
Discussion: Although the overall quality of the included studies was low, the results of this meta-analysis suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment option for restless leg syndrome.