09/20/2006 - News

Acupuncture looks effective for lower back pain

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Acupuncture looks effective for lower back pain

Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

A study suggests that traditional acupuncture can bring significant benefit to those with lower back pain.
Lower back pain is common. In the UK, around 16 per cent of the population will consult their family doctor about lower back pain during a year. Two per cent of adults say they try acupuncture for a range of conditions, including lower back pain. But the evidence on its effectiveness has been unclear, so researchers studied a group of 241 patients aged 18 to 65 referred to them by British Acupuncture Council practitioners. All had persistent lower back pain.

The patients were assigned to either acupuncture or standard care for two years. Those in the acupuncture group showed a small benefit, as measured by pain scores, compared to the control group. Three months into the study, those in the acupuncture group were significantly more likely to be 'very satisfied' with their treatment, compared to those having standard care. At 24 months, the acupuncture group was more likely to report reduced worry about their pain, used less pain medication, and were more likely to report no actual pain for the last 12 months. The differences between the two groups were, admittedly, small but still clinically worthwhile, say the researchers.

BMJ Online First

Created on: 09/20/2006
Reviewed on: 09/20/2006

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