Acupuncture for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

V. Fialka, MD; K. L. Resch, MD; D. Ritter-Dietrich, MD; Y. Alacamlioglu, MD; O. Chen, MD; T. Leitha, MD; R. Kluger, MD; E. Ernst, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(5):661-665. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410050089013.
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Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a frequent condition, usually occurring after trauma of the extremities characterized by pain, swelling, and dystrophy. Its pathophysiology is poorly understood, and no universally accepted treatment exists.1 We have tried classical acupuncture in a randomized, placebocontrolled pilot project on 14 patients with recent (less than 4 months) onset. Diagnosis was made clinically and was confirmed by scintigraphy in all cases. Group A received classical acupuncture five times per week for 3 weeks by an experienced acupuncturist (O.C.). Group B received sham-acupuncture, which meant that needles were inserted outside acupuncture points by the same acupuncturist. As the clinical evaluators (V.F. and Y.A.) were also blinded, the trial adhered as closely as possible to a double-blind protocol.

Both groups demonstrated a reduction of pain, as measured by visual analog scale (0 through 100) during the 3 weeks' treatment. In group A, the average reduction was from


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