Back pain is a very common complaint in my Chicago practice. People come in experiencing many types of back pain. There is sciatica, tight muscles, disc problems and many more. Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for most causes of back pain.
From Acupuncture Today
July, 2009, Vol. 10, Issue 07
Acupuncture Found Effective for Back Pain – Study finds it superior to usual care.
By Tina Beychok, Associate Editor
there has been extensive research on the use of acupuncture for treating back pain. A 2008 literature review concluded that there was “strong evidence” for the use of acupuncture as an adjunct to conventional therapy for lower back pain.4 Now, a new study published in the May 11, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine has added even further to the literature on the value of acupuncture in treating back pain.5
Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, and colleagues examined a group of 638 patients suffering from back pain to determine not only if acupuncture is superior to usual care for treating back pain, but to see if needle insertion at individualized points is the mechanism of action by which acupuncture works best. A total of 10 acupuncture treatments was provided over the course of eight weeks.
At 8-week follow up, all groups of patients showed improvement. However, the “usual care” group only improved by 2.1 points (scored on a disability questionnaire), as opposed to the individualized, standardized and simulated acupuncture groups, which improved by 4.4, 4.5 and 4.4 points, respectively. The greater improvement for the acupuncture groups over usual care continued all the way to 52 weeks, at the end of the study. Of those patients receiving real acupuncture, only 11 reported any side effects.
Interestingly, at the end of the study, there was little difference between the four acupuncture treatment groups in terms of effectiveness. The researchers speculated that this may mean that acupuncture’s actual mechanism of action may not be clear and that further research is warranted.
Nevertheless, they concluded, “Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain. These treatments resulted in clinically meaningful improvements in function. … For clinicians and patients seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for a condition for which conventional treatments are often ineffective, various methods of acupuncture point stimulation appear to be reasonable options, even though the mechanism of action remains unclear.
According to Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “The findings of this research show that acupuncture-like treatments, including simulated acupuncture, can elicit positive responses. This adds to the growing body of evidence that there is something meaningful taking place during acupuncture treatments outside of actual needling. Future research is needed to delve deeper into what is evoking these responses.”
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