Millions of people suffer with low back pain, and it is one of the top reasons people seek medical treatment. Back problems are also, by far, the primary reason for appointments with acupuncturists. But does acupuncture really help these patients? Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, U.K., analyzed dozens of studies from around the world on acupuncture for low back pain.
Twenty-two studies covering more than 2,100 patients met the criteria for review, which evaluated Chinese-style acupuncture for chronic low back pain, defined as pain that has been on-going for more than three months. Manheimer says “We wanted the studies for the analysis to meet the highest scientific standards. From our analysis, the message for people with chronic low back pain is that acupuncture is a truly effective therapy that provides significant pain relief,”
The researchers evaluated the effects of acupuncture both in the short-term (defined as three weeks after the last acupuncture treatment) as well as in the longer term. They found acupuncture provided definite pain relief in the short-term, and this relief appeared to be sustained over the longer term. However, they say it’s too early to be certain of longer term effects, and more studies are underway.