HealthDay News — Electroacupuncture may help reduce pain intensity in whiplash patients, but the reduction is probably not clinically significant, according to a study published online first in Spine.

Ian Douglas Cameron, PhD, of Sydney Medical School in Australia, and colleagues evaluated data from a randomized controlled trial in which 124 adult patients diagnosed with chronic or subacute whiplash-associated disorders (WAD), without neurologic deficits, fracture or dislocation, received real or simulated electroacupuncture treatment for 12 sessions during a six-week period.

Participants receiving the real electroacupuncture treatment had a significant pain intensity reducations at three and six months of follow-up, the researchers found, as measured by the visual analog pain scale. However, electroacupuncture treatment yielded no improvement in disability or health-related quality of life compared with baseline measurements, as assessed by the Neck Disability Index and SF-36 health status scale, respectively.

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“The effects of acupuncture on pain, disability and quality of life in WAD patients were moderate and may not be considered clinically relevant. Nevertheless, its effect on pain even after six months shows that acupuncture could be an important treatment in chronic WAD for which there are very few effective treatments,” the researchers wrote.

Cameron ID, Wang E, Sindhusake D. Spine. 2011;doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31821bf674.