Low-back pain (LBP) in nurses is a major health concern that affects their quality of life and ability to work, with consequences for their economic status.
This study evaluates the effect of low-level laser acupuncture combined with auricular acupressure (LAA) on pain intensity, pain interference and quality of life in nurses with LBP.
Design, setting, participants and interventions
This randomized controlled trial recruited a convenience sample of hospital-based nurses from one teaching hospital in Taiwan, China. Participants were randomly assigned to the LAA group (n = 38) receiving low-level laser acupuncture and auricular acupressure for 4 weeks, and the control group (n = 38) receiving only sham laser acupuncture treatment without laser energy output.
Main outcome measures
Data were collected for the primary pain outcome using the Short Form of the Brief Pain Inventory, while the secondary outcome, quality of life, was evaluated using the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Both primary and secondary outcomes were scored before the intervention, and after 2-week and 4-week intervention. The rate of LBP recurrence was evaluated at the 4th week and 8th week after the end of intervention.
After controlling for prior pain, the result of linear mixed model analysis showed trends in significant between-group differences in the level of current pain occurring in week 4 (P < 0.001), worst pain in week 2 (P < 0.001) and week 4 (P < 0.001), least pain in week 2 (P = 0.032) and week 4 (P < 0.001), pain interference in week 2 (P = 0.009) and week 4 (P < 0.001), and in the life dysfunction in week 2 (P < 0.001) and week 4 (P < 0.001). Recurrence rates of LBP at the 4th and 8th weeks after the end of intervention were 0% and 36.89% in the LAA group, and 69.44% and 36.11% in the control group.
This study shows that 4-week LAA intervention reduced pain intensity and pain interference, and improved quality of life for hospital-based nurses with LBP. These effects were maintained continuously for at least 4 weeks after the intervention. The nonpharmacological intervention, LAA, may be another efficacious, feasible, noninvasive, analgesic intervention for LBP.
This study is registered at Clinicaltrials.gov (registration number NCT04423445).