Effects of electroacupuncture on a degenerated intervertebral disc using an in-vivo rat-tail model

Alon Lai, Daniel H K Chow, W-S Siu, A D Holmes, Fuk Tang, Mason C P Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Electroacupuncture (EA) has long been used as conservative treatment for low back pain (LBP). Its effect on relief of back pain has been demonstrated in many clinical studies. However, whether it has any effect on the biological properties of an intervertebral disc, which is one of the major causes of LBP, is still unclear. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate the effects of EA with different simulation frequencies on an intervertebral disc with simulated degeneration using an in-vivo rat-tail model. In this study, 33 rats were used. Disc degeneration was simulated in the rat caudal 8-9 disc via continuous static compressive loading of 11 N for 2 weeks. EA with a frequency of 2 or 100 Hz was then applied to the degenerated disc for 3 weeks with 3 sessions/week and 20 min/session. The intervertebral disc height was measured before and after compression as well as after EA intervention for 3 weeks. The static compression was found to result in a reduction in the disc height of about 22 per cent. There was no evidence that this change could be reversed after resting or the EA intervention. However, EA at 100 Hz was found to induce a further decrease in disc height, which was not shown for the rats after resting or EA at 2 Hz. The results of this study showed that effects of EA on disc degeneration are frequency dependent and adverse effects could result if EA at a certain frequency was used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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