Until you have tried it, everyone wants to know,does acupuncture really work? We know it does because we see it help people every day. Certainly there are some things that it seems to work better for and pain is one of them. In fact, acupuncture for back pain is probably on the top of the list. Rather than take our advise on it though, we wanted to give you broader perspective, 2678 different people to be exact. Their experience with acupuncture for back pain is the subject of this article.
Acupuncture is a part of Chinese medicine whose practice dates back to 100BC or even earlier. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles (to apply stimulus) into various points on the body (acupoints) with or without the application of electric currents to such needles.
Low back pain is one of the major reasons for patients to present to the hospital or doctor's office. It is associated with significant degree of disability, poor quality of life, and decreased productivity. Many times ( in conventional medicine) the initial treatment for back pain is a pain medication and muscle relaxers with very little diagnostics done to better understand the cause. Even when the cause is known, the nature of most back pain treatment is that it will come back. With the use of acupuncture for back pain things are a little different. We don't use medication and thin needles are inserted into specific areas on your back and body. Sometimes we will also use electroacupuncture where electric current of appropriate frequency and intensity is then applied to these needles.
So with all that said, many people want to know how many treatments will be needed. In our Phoenix acupuncture clinic we find that most people get relief from their back pain within 1-5 treatments.
So How Did they Feel After Acupuncture for Back Pain
Many studies have reported the effectiveness of acupuncture for back pain. Xu et al. analyzed the outcomes of 13 different clinical trials on acupuncture for low back pain. The combination of these studies amounted to looking at 2678 patients who had back pain. Only about half of these (about 1300) received acupuncture for back pain. For measuring the results of the acupuncture, researches used pain intensity, disability, spine flexion, and quality of life to identify outcomes. When compared to the people who got no treatment at all, those that received acupuncture resulted in significant pain relief, faster recovery from disability, and improvement in quality of life.
The research group also found acupuncture to work superior to conventional (physical therapy, medications) treatment options. For the most part, those that got the acupuncture were convinced it worked too. The researches concluded that the effectiveness of acupuncture as treatment for chronic back pain is clear.1
In a similar study, Liu et al. analyzed several reviews of research studies looking at the effectiveness of acupuncture for back pain. The result of their analysis revealed that acupuncture treatment is more beneficial than placebo in terms of relieving acute low back pain. It was also clear from their analysis that there was a functional improvement after acupuncture treatment for acute back pain. For those with chronic back pain a clinically significant benefit (pain relief and functional improvement) was also seen. Although theimprovement was short term, it was better than what was seen in conventional treatments.
With so many people benefiting from acupuncture for back pain, we thinkmore people should be trying it. What do you think? Have you tried acupuncture for your back pain? Let us know below or click on the link to discuss your pain with us.
1. Xu M, Yan S, Yin X et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain in Long-Term Follow-Up: A Meta-Analysis of 13 Randomized Controlled Trials. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2013;41(01):1-19. doi:10.1142/s0192415x13500018.
2. Liu L, Skinner M, McDonough S, Mabire L, Baxter GD. Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2015;2015:328196. doi:10.1155/2015/328196.