Background: and purpose: Although several studies have reported that thread embedding acupuncture is effective for lumbar herniated intervertebral disc, the evidence remains limited because previous studies had a high risk of bias. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of thread embedding acupuncture for lumbar herniated intervertebral disc through a rigorously designed trial.
Materials and methods: This was a randomized, patient-assessor-blinded, sham-controlled trial. Participants were screened according to eligibility criteria, and 70 patients with lumbar herniated intervertebral disc were randomly allocated to the thread embedding acupuncture and sham thread embedding acupuncture groups in a 1:1 ratio.
Both groups received thread embedding acupuncture or sham thread embedding acupuncture treatment at 23 acupoints once per week for eight weeks. Changes in low back pain, radiating pain, Oswestry disability index, Roland-Morris disability questionnaire, EuroQol 5-Dimensions 5-Levels, and global perceived effect were measured at baseline and at 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks after screening and compared between the two groups.
Results: Thread embedding acupuncture showed no significant difference in all outcomes compared to sham thread embedding acupuncture immediately after eight weeks of treatment. After an additional eight weeks of follow-up, thread embedding acupuncture showed a more significant effect on the low back pain than sham thread embedding acupuncture (p < 0.05) and showed a better tendency in maintaining or enhancing the improvement of radiating pain, function, and quality of life even after the end of treatment. No serious adverse events were observed.
Conclusion: Thread embedding acupuncture is effective in improving low back pain in patients with lumbar herniated intervertebral disc and may help improve function and quality of life, especially in the long term.