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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 402180, 7 pages
Research Article

Network Analysis of Acupuncture Points Used in the Treatment of Low Back Pain

1Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemungu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea
2Biomedical Knowledge Engineering Laboratory, BK21 College of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea
3Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea
4Department of Brain Cognitive Engineering, Korea University, Seoul 136-713, Republic of Korea
5Informatics Development & Management Group, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 305-390, Republic of Korea

Received 11 April 2013; Accepted 4 June 2013

Academic Editor: Wei-bo Zhang

Copyright © 2013 Soon-Ho Lee 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.


Background. The appropriate selection of acupoints is fundamental to obtain a therapeutic effect from clinical acupuncture. Objective. Using a network analysis method, we investigated the acupoints that are combined to treat low back pain (LBP). Methods. To analyze the patterns of the combinations of acupoints, we used acupoint information from clinical trials to calculate the modified mutual information (MI) value, integrated these data, and visualized the network. Results. Based on the highest MI values, we found two different types of acupoint pairs used in the treatment of LBP: pairs of distant acupoints and pairs of local acupoints. Using modular analysis, we found that three acupoint modules were applied in the treatment of LBP: local acupoints, distant acupoints along the meridian, and distant acupoints based on the symptom differentiations. Conclusion. Using the modified MI technique, we provide a systematic framework for the acupoint combination network, and reveal how the technique of acupoint combination is used in the treatment of LBP. Application of this knowledge in acupuncture research may help clarify the mechanisms underlying acupuncture treatment at the systems level, bridging the gap between traditional medicine and modern science.