Acupunture best treatment for back pain

Acupuncture provides better relief of lower back pain than traditional treatments

ACUPUNCTURE CAN OFFER better relief from lower back pain than traditional treatments, according to scientists.

A continued reduction in pain was 74% more likely for those who undergo the Chinese needle therapy, than those who turn to physiotherapy, medication and advice on exercise, say German researchers.

Nevertheless, the study also discovered that ‘sham acupunture’ – where needles are applied away from points usually used in conventional Chinese medicine – to be almost as effective. This would suggest that the positive results have more to do with how the body copes with pain than the precise points where the needles are applied.

The research trialled on 1,162 patients over eight years and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine stated: ‘Acupuncture gives physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic low back pain, with few adverse effects or contra-indications. The improvements in all primary and secondary outcome measures were significant and lasted long after completion of treatment.’

GPs in the UK who treat patients with back pain will first check for conditions like tumours and rheumatoid arthritis, before suggesting exercise or painkillers.

Nia Taylor, the chief executive of BackCare, said: ‘We know from talking to patients that they are often dissatisfied with the attention they receive from their GPs. So-called alternative therapies such as acupuncture often provide longer consultation periods, and that in itself can be beneficial.’

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