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Acupuncture: Best Back Treatment


Friday, May 15th, 2009 Acupuncture: Best Back Treatment

Alternative therapies are becoming ever more popular with the general population, so when the daily Mail (12 05 09) presented this article, right there and then, there was an apparent keenness’ to find out more.

If you have suffered from back pain it not only can be extremely painful, but it can also be very tiresome. It has been argued that the experts have indicated that the ancient Chinese therapy can relieve a bad back better than anything else.

In addition it is reported that as many as 85% of the population will feel a twinge here or there at some stage in their lives. Nevertheless back pain in the UK costs the NHS inexcess of £500 million pounds per annum. Hence there is a fundamental need to overcome this very costly disorder.

Research has found that acupuncture, based on the theory that needles can release the body’s vital energy, and had a better success rate in relieving pain than conventional treatment.

Indeed hundreds of adults who suffered from chronic lower back pain were split into four groups.

One received an individual programme of acupuncture; one group standard therapy; a third group had a simulation of acupuncture using toothpicks; and the fourth group had the usual care.

After eight weeks, 60 per cent of those having some kind of acupuncture identified that they were much improved.

For those receiving conventional care, it was only 39 per cent. After a year, between 59 and 69 per cent of those treated with acupuncture reported improvements, compared to 50 per cent of those having usual care.

Researcher Dr Daniel Cherkin said all the varieties of acupuncture ‘had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain’, when compared to usual treatment.

This makes acupuncture appear a promising option for chronic back pain, he explained.

‘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. Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit.’

However, the findings do not establish whether the treatment actually helps heal or simply makes us think we feel better, said Dr Cherkin, of the Group Health Centre for Health Studies, in Seattle.

Recent studies have suggested that simulated acupuncture, or shallow needling, appears as effective as needles penetrating the skin. There are several possible explanations, according to the study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine. Superficial stimulation of acupuncture points may directly stimulate physiological
processes that result in reduced pain and improved function.

Or the improvement may simply be down to the patients’ belief that acupuncture will make them well, hence the placebo effect.

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