Acupressure Can Reduce Pain after Pterygium Surgery

Reportage in a Chinese medecine practice. Ocular reflex therapy. (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Researchers test the healing powers of auricular point acupressure treatment in postoperative patients.

Auricular point acupressure may be an ideal adjunct treatment for postoperative pterygium recovery, according to findings published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Researchers conducted a randomized, controlled study to assess the efficacy of auricular point acupressure treatment during the postoperative recovery period for patients who have undergonepterygium surgery. The study consisted of 60 participants with pterygium who were scheduled for elective outpatient surgery at The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University who were randomly assigned to 2 groups. Both groups were treated for 1 week; 1 group underwent treatment using ear acupressure, and the control group was treated using sham auricular therapy. The treatment group’s therapy included the use of cowherb seeds. 

The study’s outcome measures included pain score, corneal epithelial score, best-corrected visual acuity, and recurrence rate. Of 53 patients who completed the study, there was a significant reduction of the mean pain scores and corneal epithelial scores over time in the treatment group compared to the control group (P <.05). For both groups, the time-group interaction for both pain scores and epithelial scores was significant (P <.05), and mean pain scores were significantly lower in the auricular group than the control group at each time point (P <.05). However, in the best-corrected visual acuity and recurrence rate, there was no significant difference in the 2 groups (P >.05). 

The study explains that auricular therapy is a traditional treatment with a 2000-year history in China that has become popular in Europe in the past 60 years, and that this is the first study to assess its efficacy for postoperative recovery from pterygium surgery. This study was conducted because it has been shown that postoperative pain in the pterygium of the eyes seriously affects patient recovery.

“Previous studies have indicated that auricular therapy relieves abdominal pain significantly, but auricular therapy has not been widely used for providing analgesia in ophthalmic surgery thus far,” the researchers explain. “Acupressure promotes ocular surface repair where postoperative pain originates, thus shortening the duration of pain.” 

Study limitations include a small sample size and a possible placebo effect due to the true and sham auricular therapies performed.


Cen L, Yi C. Therapeutic effects of auricular point acupressure on the recovery of patients after pterygium surgery: A pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021;43(2):101339. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2021.101339.