Acupuncture and amitriptyline for pain due to HIV-related peripheral neuropathy: A randomized controlled trial

Judith C. Shlay, Kathryn Chaloner, Mitchell B. Max, Bob Flaws, Patricia Reichelderfer, Deborah N Wentworth, Shauna Hillman, Barbara Brizz, David L. Cohn

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246 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context. - Peripheral neuropathy is common in persons infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) but few data on symptomatic treatment are available. Objective. - To evaluate the efficacy of a standardized acupuncture regimen (SAR) and amitriptyline hydrochloride for the relief of pain due to HIV-related peripheral neuropathy in HIV-infected patients. Design. - Randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial. Each site enrolled patients into 1 of the following 3 options: (1) a modified double-blind 2 x 2 factorial design of SAR, amitriptyline, or the combination compared with placebo, (2) a modified double-blind design of an SAR vs control points, or (3) a double-blind design of amitriptyline vs placebo. Setting. - Terry Beirn Community Programs for Clinical Research on AIDS (HIV primary care providers) in 10 US Cities. Patients. - Patients with HIV- associated, symptomatic, lower-extremity peripheral neuropathy. Of 250 patients enrolled, 239 were in the acupuncture comparison (125 in the factorial option and 114 in the SAR option vs control points option), and 136 patients were in the amitriptyline comparison (125 in the factorial option and 11 in amitriptyline option vs placebo option). Interventions. - Standarized acupuncture regimen vs control points, amitriptyline (75 mg/d) vs placebo, or both for 14 weeks. Main Outcome Measure. - Changes in mean pain scores at 6 and 14 weeks, using a pain scale ranging from 0.0 (no pain) to 1.75 (extremely intense), recorded daily. Results. - Patients in all 4 groups showed reduction in mean pain scores at 6 and 14 weeks compared with baseline values. For both the acupuncture and amitriptyline comparisons, changes in pain score were not significantly different between the 2 groups. At 6 weeks, the estimated difference in pain reduction for patients in the SAR group compared with those in the control points group (a negative value indicates a greater reduction for the 'active' treatment) was 0.01 (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.11 to 0.12; P=.88) and for patients in the amitriptyline group vs those in the placebo group was -0.07 (95% CI, -0.22 to 0.08; P= .38). At 14 weeks, the difference for those in the SAR group compared with those in the control points group was -0.08 (95% CI, -0.21 to 0.06; P=.26) and for amitriptyline compared with placebo was 0.00 (95% CI, -0.18 to 0.19; P=.99). Conclusions. - In this study neither acupuncture nor amitriptyline was more effective than placebo in relieving pain caused by HIV-related peripheral neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1590-1595
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Volume280
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 11 1998

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