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Sensor Measurement of Acupuncture Needle Manipulation

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Identifier:
First received: February 11, 2005
Last updated: February 26, 2007
Last verified: February 2007

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a sensor system capable of measuring acupuncture needle manipulation and torque in a clinical setting.

Study hypothesis: Torque will be greater on the side of the back with musculoskeletal pain compared with the side without pain.

Condition Intervention Phase
Back Pain Procedure: Acupuncture Phase 1

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Non-Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Educational/Counseling/Training
Official Title: Acupuncture Needling Torque Sensor

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Feasibility of use of needle torque sensor in clinical practice, education, and research

Estimated Enrollment: 30
Study Start Date: September 2004
Estimated Study Completion Date: February 2007
Detailed Description:

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves the use of specialized needles to stimulate parts of the body. The number of Americans who use acupuncture services continues to grow each year. Two elements required to deliver high-quality acupuncture treatment are identification of the appropriate acupuncture points and proper manipulation of the acupuncture needle. Despite a growing awareness of the importance of proper needle techniques, no tool capable of objectively measuring needle manipulation in a clinical setting has ever been developed. Such a tool would have applications in acupuncture research, teaching, and clinical practice.

This study will develop and test a simple hand-held sensor capable of making such objective needle torque measurements.

There are two parts to this study. In Part 1, researchers will develop the hand-held sensor (called the AcuSensor) that will be mounted to the handle of an acupuncture needle and will measure torque during manual needle manipulation.

In Part 2, the sensor will be tested for accuracy and reliability in three different groups. Group 1 will consist of patients with unilateral musculoskeletal back pain. Group 1 participants will undergo one session of acupuncture treatment while torque measurement and needle manipulation techniques are examined. In Group 2, practitioners and students at two leading acupuncture schools will use the AcuSensor during their teaching clinics. Teachers and students will complete a questionnaire to evaluate the sensor's usefulness. Experienced acupuncturists comprise Group 3; they will receive AcuSensor training and evaluate the performance of the AcuSensor in clinical practice. Information about the range and variability of torque measurements produced by different practitioners and techniques will be obtained from use of the sensor. Group 3 acupuncturists will also guess needle torque before and after training with the sensor turned off in order to determine the way AcuSensor training affects acupuncturists' sensory perception of needle grasp.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria for Group 1 Participants:

  • Asymmetric chronic musculoskeletal back pain
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00103675

Sponsors and Collaborators
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Principal Investigator: Helene M. Langevin, MD University of Vermont
  More Information

Ellis A, Wiseman N and Boss K. Fundamentals of Chinese acupuncture (1991). Brookline: Paradigm Publications.
Johns R. (1996) The art of acupuncture techniques. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA.
Lytle CD. An overview of acupuncture. Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993
Yang J (1601) The golden needle and other odes of traditional acupuncture (Transl. Bertschinger, R. 1991) Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh. Identifier: NCT00103675     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R01AT001121-01A1 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: February 11, 2005
Last Updated: February 26, 2007

Keywords provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Back Pain
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms processed this record on September 21, 2017