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Long-Term Effect of Acupuncture for Treatment of Tinnitus: A Randomized, Patient- and Assessor-Blind, Sham-Acupuncture-Controlled, Pilot Trial



Abstract Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the long-term effect of acupuncture for treatment of tinnitus. Study design: This study is a randomized, patient- and assessor-blind, sham-acupuncture-controlled, pilot trial. Subjects: Participants were adults (18-60 years old) with chronic (≥6 months), unilateral tinnitus, and without moderate or severe hearing loss. Interventions: Thirty-three (33) participants were randomized to one of two treatment groups: real acupuncture and sham-acupuncture (nonmeridian; no specific response, de qi). Participants received 10 sessions of acupuncture treatment (twice a week for 5 weeks), and usual patient care education. Outcome measures: The subjective outcome was the score of Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) from baseline to 3 months after. Pure Tone Average (PTA) and Speech Discrimination (SD) from baseline to 3 months after were assessed as objective outcomes. Results: A significant interaction between time and group in VAS (p=0.017) was evident, but not in THI, PTA, and SD scores. THI showed significant improvement at the end of treatment and 3 months after, compared to baseline, in real acupuncture (p=0.004). In SD, a significant long-term effect of real acupuncture was observed until 3 months after (p=0.011). However, the effect of real acupuncture in PTA was not maintained until 3 months after the end of treatment. No significant difference in the sham-acupuncture treatment group was evident. No statistical difference in any outcome was observed between real and sham acupuncture. Only in the mean percent change of VAS, real acupuncture showed statistical significance, compared with sham-acupuncture from baseline to 3 months after (p=0.019). Conclusions: Through evaluation of subjective (THI and VAS) and objective outcomes (PTA and SD), this study demonstrates the long-term effect of real acupuncture.

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