New Back Pain Study: Acupuncture an Effective Treatment

Report on the new evidence showing acupuncture is an effective treatment for back pain. Sign up for Julie Permut’s monthly e-newsletter or use the online scheduling system to make an appointment today!

In May, 2009, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (May 11, 2009) followed a group of 638 patients suffering from backpain who received ten acupuncture treatments over the course of eight weeks.  The study set out to determine whether or not acupuncture is superior to usual care for the treatment of back pain and to determine whether or not acupuncture is more effective when treatment is tailored to each individual patient.

The study compared four groups of patients:  one group received an individualized acupuncture treatment determined by a diagnostician, another received a standardized acupuncture prescription considered effective in the treatment of back pain, a third received “simulated acupuncture”  where pressure was applied to each acupuncture point using a toothpick, and the fourth group received only the care, if any, prescribed by their doctors.

Eight weeks into the study, follow-up showed that all four groups of patients had improved, but that the groups receiving individualized, standardized and simulated acupuncture improved nearly twice as much as the group receiving usual care.  Even at 52 weeks, the end of the study, this difference held true.

Interestingly, the differences between the three groups receiving acupuncture were small, something that has been noted in similar studies.  Researchers suggested that this could mean it isn’t yet clear how acupuncture works and the question needs further study.

The study concluded that ” 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.”

In my practice, I have treated hundreds of patients with back pain.  Most of these patients have found relief with acupuncture and many have experienced complete resolution of their symptoms within six to eight treatments. If you’re wondering whether acupuncture can help you with your pain, please call us at 924-6624.  If you’re ready to make an appointment online, click here.

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