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Acupuncture for Chronic Shoulder Pain: An Experimental Study with Attention to the Role of Placebo and Hypnotic Susceptibility

MARY E. MOORE, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P.; and STEPHEN N. BERK, Ph.D.
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Grant support: by a grant-in-aid from Sigma Xi; a grant from the Thaddeus L. Bolton Fund, Department of Psychology, Temple University; and The General Research Support Fund, grant 501-976-61, Temple University Health Sciences Center. Doctor Moore is a Teaching and Research Scholar of the Philadelphia Foundation in Rheumatology and Medicine.

Presented in part at the thirty-ninth annual meeting of The American Rheumatism Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 1975.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Mary E. Moore, M.D., Ph.D., Temple University Hospital, 3401 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19140.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ann Intern Med. 1976;84(4):381-384. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-84-4-381
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One half of 42 subjects treated for painful shoulders received classic acupuncture, and one half received a placebo in which the needles did not penetrate the skin. Half of each of these groups was treated in a positive setting to encourage the subject, and half in a negative setting designed to keep encouragement at a minimum. All patients were independently rated for susceptibility to hypnosis. Although range of motion did not improve, the majority of patients reported significant improvement in shoulder discomfort to a blind evaluator after treatment; placebo and acupuncture groups did not differ in this respect, however. The positive and negative settings did not affect treatment outcome. In all groups, those who were not rated as highly susceptible to hypnosis tended to fail to achieve the highest levels of relief, but such differences were not statistically significant.





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