Injuries are a common consequence of sports and recreational activity. The optimal management of symptoms is a crucial element of sports injury management. Acupressure has previously been shown to effectively decrease symptoms of musculoskeletal injury, thus may be considered a potentially useful intervention in the management of sport-related injuries. Therefore, this study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of acupressure in decreasing pain and anxiety in acutely injured athletes.
This was tested through a RCT in a sports injury clinic in New Zealand and 79 athletes took part. The primary outcomes of pain and anxiety intensity were measured before and immediately after the intervention on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS). Pain and anxiety relief, satisfaction with treatment, willingness to repeat a similar treatment, and belief in the effect of acupressure were secondary outcomes measured on Likert scales after the intervention.
The acupressure group reported 11 mm less pain (95% CI: 5-17) on average than the sham acupressure group, and 9 mm less (95% CI: 3-16) than the control group as a result of the intervention (P < 0.05). There was no difference between groups in: anxiety levels, or in any of the secondary outcome measures. Three minutes of acupressure was effective in decreasing pain intensity in athletes who sustained an acute musculoskeletal sports injury when measured on the VAS, but did not change anxiety levels.