Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effect of acupuncture on Deqi traits and pain intensity in primary dysmenorrhea: analysis of data from a larger randomized controlled trial

Guang-Xia Shi1, Qian-Qian Li1, Cun-Zhi Liu1*, Jiang Zhu2, Lin-Peng Wang1, Jing Wang1, Li-Li Han3, Li-Ping Guan3 and Meng-Meng Wu3

Author Affiliations

1 Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, affiliated to Capital Medical University, 23 Meishuguanhou Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100010, China

2 School of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 11 Bei San Huan East Road, Chao Yang District, Beijing 100010, China

3 The First Hospital affiliated to Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 312 West Anshan Avenue, Tianjin 300193, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:69  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-69

Published: 21 February 2014



Deqi is a central concept in traditional Chinese acupuncture. We performed a secondary analysis on data from a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) in order to assess the effect of acupuncture on deqi traits and pain intensity in primary dysmenorrhea.


A total of 60 primary dysmenorrhea patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. Acupuncture was given at SP6, GB39 or nonacupoint. Subjective pain was measured by a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS) before and after acupuncture. The Massachusetts General Hospital acupuncture sensation scales (MASS) with minor modification was used to rate deqi sensations during acupuncture.


The results showed that VAS scores of pain after acupuncture were significantly decreased comparing to before acupuncture treatment in all three groups (P = 0.000). However, no significant differences were found among three groups at the beginning or end of acupuncture treatment (P = 0.928, P = 0.419).


There was no statistical difference among three groups in terms of intensity of deqi feeling. The types of sensation were similar across the groups with only minor differences among them.

Trial registration

Trial registration number: ISRCTN24863192.

Acupuncture; Deqi traits; Pain intensity; Primary dysmenorrhea