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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 364216, 18 pages
Review Article

Acupuncture for Spinal Cord Injury and Its Complications: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

1School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
2Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
3Korean Medicine Hospital, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea

Received 21 October 2012; Accepted 8 December 2012

Academic Editor: Gerhard Litscher

Copyright © 2013 In Heo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To evaluate the evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for SCI and its complications, we conducted search across 19 electronic databases to find all of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that used acupuncture as a treatment for SCI and its complications. The methodological quality of each RCT was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and the PEDro scale. Sixteen RCTs, including 2 high-quality RCTs, met our inclusion criteria (8 for functional recovery from SCI, 6 for bladder dysfunction, and 2 for pain control). The meta-analysis showed positive results for the use of acupuncture combined with conventional treatments for the functional recovery in terms of motor ASIA scores and total FIM scores when compared to conventional treatments alone. Positive results were also obtained for the treatment of bladder dysfunction, in terms of the total efficacy rate, when comparing acupuncture to conventional treatments. However, 2 RCTs for pain control reported conflicting results. Our systematic review found encouraging albeit limited evidence for functional recovery, bladder dysfunction, and pain in SCI. However, to obtain stronger evidence without the drawbacks of trial design and the quality of studies, we recommend sham-controlled RCTs or comparative effectiveness research for each condition to test the effectiveness of acupuncture.