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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 457390, 7 pages
Research Article

Auricular Acupressure Can Modulate Pain Threshold

1Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno, 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
2Department of Experimental Medicine, Second University of Naples, 80138 Naples, Italy

Received 9 October 2014; Revised 1 January 2015; Accepted 2 January 2015

Academic Editor: Gerhard Litscher

Copyright © 2015 Antonietta Santoro 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.


The objective of our study was to investigate if auriculotherapy (AT) can modulate pain threshold. In our experiments, AT consisted of placing Vaccaria seeds over the “fingers point” of one ear. Two groups of healthy volunteers were enrolled for the study. Each subject was asked to perform an autoalgometric test developed by our group on three occasions: before, 1 hour after, AT and 24 hours after AT. Participants of the first group received a 2-minute long session of AT, while participants of the second group received a 2-minute long session of sham treatment, consisting of a puncture/massage above the skin of the neck. The autoalgometric test consisted of applying an increasing pressure with the finger-tips and finger-backs of four fingers by the subjects themselves (i.e., eight sites were evaluated) against a round-shaped needle for two times: until a minimum pain sensation (first time, minimal test) or a maximally tolerable pain sensation (second time, maximal test). Our results showed a significant higher pain threshold in the maximal test at 24 hours after AT compared to sham treatment. This result indicates for the first time that AT can increase pain tolerability, rather than affecting the minimal pain threshold.