There seems to be no question that Americans spend a great deal of money
dealing with back pain. According to research, we spend at least $37 billion
another $19.8 billion in lost worker productivity due to back pain. In response to
this, there has been extensive research on the use of acupuncture for treating
back pain. 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.

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 were provided over the course of eight weeks.
At 8-week followup, 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."

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*Article is originally printed in the "To Your Health" news letter by Acupuncture Today.
Acupuncture Benefits Low Back Pain
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From The Center: Natural Health Specialists