OBJECTIVES: This two-phase study was designed to establish the current use of acupuncture within physiotherapy and to determine the opinions of those who received acupuncture therapy. DESIGN: Retrospective study and questionnaire survey. PATIENTS: Patients who attended an outpatient physiotherapy department over a 2-year period (phase 1, retrospective study of clinical records; n = 599). Patients who had received acupuncture treatment from outpatient physiotherapy (phase 2, patient survey; n = 200). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Patient records and questionnaire. RESULTS: The patients who attended for outpatient physiotherapy were categorized into three main groups: low back pain, cervical/thoracic spine problems and soft-tissue injuries of peripheral joints. Acupuncture appeared to be used as a secondary form of treatment for these conditions, where other modalities failed rather than being used for best effect. The response rate to the questionnaire was 78%, of whom 60% stated that they had experienced pain relief following their acupuncture therapy, and 31% were still experiencing pain relief. The majority had achieved sufficient relief to carry out daily activities at home (80%) and at work (57%). Ninety-four per cent of respondents were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with their treatment. CONCLUSION: Further investigation is required to adequately assess the efficacy of acupuncture as a pain-relieving modality. Copyright © 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
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