Acupuncture more effective than usual care for back pain

May 12th, 2009 - 1:08 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 12 (ANI): A new study has found that acupuncture is far more effective in alleviating chronic back pain than the conventional therapies.

Whether it is real or simulated acupuncture, the therapy can effectively reduce chronic low back pain than usual care, the study has found.

“Back pain is the leading reason for visits to licensed acupuncturists, and medical acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain,” the authors write.

During the study, a team led by Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin, of Group Health Centre for Health Studies, Seattle, compared four different types of treatment in a randomised clinical trial involving 638 adults (average age 47) with chronic low back pain.

During the seven-week treatment period, 157 participants received 10 acupuncture treatments in a manner individually prescribed by a diagnostic acupuncturist; 158 underwent a standardized course of acupuncture treatments considered effective by experts for low back pain; 162 received 10 sessions of simulated acupuncture, in which practitioners used a toothpick inside of an acupuncture needle guide tube to mimic the insertion, stimulation and removal of needles; and 161 received usual care.

“Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain,” the authors said.

After eight weeks, 60 percent of the participants receiving any type of acupuncture experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 percent of those receiving usual care.

And after one-year, 59 percent to 65 percent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement in function, compared with 50 percent of the usual care group.

“Our results have important implications for key stakeholders,” said the authors.

“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.

“Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care,” they added.

The findings appear in Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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