Got Backache? Get Acupuncture

Acupuncture could prove more effective then conventional treatment in curing back pain, according to a new study.

“Low back pain is a common, impairing and disabling condition, often long-term, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 70 to 85 percent,” wrote Dr Michael Haake, one of the study’s co-authors in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

“Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contraindications,” he said, noting that back pain was one of the key reasons for absenteeism and disability.

Haake and his colleagues carried out a clinical trial of some 1,162 patients, with an average age of 50, who had suffered from back pain around eight years, at the University of Regensburg, Germany.

In a random selection, a third of the group were given 10, 30-minute acupuncture sessions, at a rate of about two a week, based on traditional Chinese medicine with the needles inserted to between five to 40 millimeters under the skin.

Another third, some 387 patients, were given sham acupuncture, with the needles only implanted to between one to three millimeters, and the final group were given conventional therapy of medication, physical therapy and exercise.

After six months, 47.6 percent of those receiving Chinese acupuncture had noticed an improvement in their condition, along with 44.2 percent in the sham group.

Only 27.4 percent of the group receiving conventional therapy however, reported any improvement, noted the study in the journal which is part of the Journal of the American Medical Association group.

“The superiority of both forms of acupuncture suggests a common underlying mechanism that may act on pain generation, transmission of pain signals or processing of pain signals by the central nervous system and that is stronger than the action mechanism of conventional therapy,” the authors said.

The effects of the acupuncture also lasted beyond treatment, the study concluded.

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