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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 103570, 9 pages
Research Article

The Anti-Inflammatory Actions of Auricular Point Acupressure for Chronic Low Back Pain

1School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
2Department of Biostatistics, University of Texas, School of Public Health at San Antonio Regional Campus, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Campus, Research to Advance Community Health Center, Houston, TX 77025, USA
3Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
4Departments of Psychiatry, Physical Medicine, and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
5Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

Received 12 December 2014; Revised 1 March 2015; Accepted 2 March 2015

Academic Editor: Vincenzo De Feo

Copyright © 2015 Wei-Chun Lin 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. Auricular point acupressure (APA) is a promising treatment for pain management. Few studies have investigated the physiological mechanisms of APA analgesics. Method. In this pilot randomized clinical trial (RCT), a 4-week APA treatment was used to manage chronic low back pain (CLBP). Sixty-one participants were randomized into a real APA group () or a sham APA group (). Blood samples, pain intensity, and physical function were collected at baseline and after 4 weeks of treatment. Results. Subjects in the real APA group reported a 56% reduction of pain intensity and a 26% improvement in physical function. Serum blood samples showed (1) a decrease in IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, and calcitonin gene-related peptide [CGRP] and (2) an increase in IL-4. In contrast, subjects in the sham APA group (1) reported a 9% reduction in pain and a 2% improvement in physical function and (2) exhibited minimal changes of inflammatory cytokines and neuropeptides. Statistically significant differences in IL-4 and CGRP expression between the real and sham APA groups were verified. Conclusion. These findings suggest that APA treatment affects pain intensity through modulation of the immune system, as reflected by APA-induced changes in serum inflammatory cytokine and neuropeptide levels.