Clinical Abstracts

Acupuncture for Raynaud’s Syndrome

December 1998; Volume 1: 8

Source: Appiah R, et al. Treatment of primary Raynaud’s syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. J Intern Med 1997;241:119-124.

Design and Setting: Randomized, controlled trial comparing treatment group with untreated controls in the angiological clinic of Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Subjects: 33 patients (10 men, 23 women) younger than 60 years old with primary Raynaud’s syndrome.

Treatment: Acupuncture and moxa stimulation of acupuncture points.

Dose/Route/Duration: Patients in the treatment group received acupuncture and moxa stimulation every other day during weeks 10 and 11 for a total of seven treatments. A standardized protocol was used (all patients were treated at the same points). Patients were followed for 24 weeks.

Outcome Measures: Symptom diaries (for 23 weeks); capillary flow-stop reaction measured by local cooling test with nailfold capillaroscopy (in weeks 1, 12, and 24).

Results: Frequency of attacks decreas-ed significantly from 1.4/d to 0.6/d in the treatment group and insignificantly from 1.6/d to 1.2/d in the untreated group. Overall reduction of attacks was significantly different between the two groups. Mean duration of capillary flowstop reaction decreased significantly from 71 to 24 seconds in the treatment group between week 1 and week 12 and remained significantly reduced, at 38 seconds, at week 23. No significant changes from baseline were seen in the control group. Duration and severity of attacks did not change in either group.

Funding: Not noted.

Comments: This is an interesting study which indicates that acupuncture may be a useful alternative for Raynaud’s. Acupuncture trials are notoriously difficult to control, but the choice of untreated controls is not ideal. This study should be repeated as a treatment-controlled trial, perhaps comparing acupuncture to nifedipine.