Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Cuts Lower Back Pain

New research demonstrates that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic lower back pain. Researchers studied back pain patients in an inpatient rehabilitation clinic in Germany. Two groups of patients were compared. Group 1 received acupuncture plus conventional rehabilitation services. Group 2 received only rehabilitation services. The researchers discovered that patients willingly accepted acupuncture as a means of care and showed significant improvements in physical functioning, overall health and energy levels and improvements in emotional well-being over the conventional care only group. Notably, the acupuncture group also demonstrated significant improvements over the conventional care only group in the area of pain reduction.

Acupuncture reduces lower back pain.Low Back AcupunctureAcupuncture significantly reduced pain levels and reduced radiculopathy experienced as a prickling sensation in the hands and feet. The acupuncture patients had less pain upon sitting, standing and carrying loads of 10kg or greater. The researchers concluded, “Acupuncture was highly accepted and had positive effects in patients with chronic low back pain. These results show that acupuncture can be an effective, well-tolerated therapy with no major adverse events.”

This research is supported by that of investigators in Calgary (Alberta, Canada). In this study, the researchers discovered that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of lower back pain and is also cost-effective. Patients receiving acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain required approximately 50% less visits to an M.D. than patients who did not received acupuncture. The investigators discovered, in the course of the study, that patients receiving acupuncture spent 37% less on total medical services. Patients not receiving acupuncture had only a 1% drop in medical expenses for the treatment of lower back pain. The researchers concluded that utilizing acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain reduces overall healthcare spending.

The emergence of new research demonstrating acupuncture’s beneficial effects for the treatment of pain extends to many body parts and conditions. Research published in Clinical Rheumatology finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia (FMS). The researchers note that acupuncture provides “beneficial effects” for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Another study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore) concludes that “real acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture for improving symptoms of patients with FMS.” Another study published by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine (Rochester, Minnesota) concludes, “We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.”

Combination therapies have also shown that acupuncture provides significant relief. Researchers concluded that, “Electro-acupuncture coupled with conventional treatments provided a success rate of 80% in chronic planar fasciitis which was more effective than conventional treatments alone.” This type of finding is consistent with the newer integrative medicine model wherein standard rehabilitation care is provided and then augmented with acupuncture therapy. The results demonstrate a synergistic effect and the combination produces significantly better patient outcomes.

Weiß, Johannes, Sabine Quante, Fuping Xue, Rainer Muche, and Monika Reuss-Borst. "Effectiveness and Acceptance of Acupuncture in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Trial." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).

Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur. Volume 55, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 25–26. Reduced health resource use after acupuncture for low-back pain. S Moritza, MF Liub, B Rickhia, b, c, TJ Xua, P Paccagnana, H Quand.

An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative medicine for fibromyalgia. Rohini Terry, Rachel Perry and Edzard Ernst. Clinical Rheumatology
Volume 31, Number 1 (2012), 55-66, DOI: 10.1007/s10067-011-1783-5.

Berman BM, Ezzo J, Hadhazy V, Swyers JP. Complementary Medicine Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21207, USA. The Journal of Family Practice [1999, 48(3):213-218].

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):749-57. Improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms with acupuncture: results of a randomized controlled trial. Martin DP, Sletten CD, Williams BA, Berger IH. Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota.

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, An International Journal of Comparative Medicine East and West. Efficacy of Electro-Acupuncture in Chronic Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Wipoo Kumnerddee and Nitsara Pattapong. Volume 40, Issue 06, 2012.

Shi Ping Zhang, Tsui-Pik Yip, and Qiu-Shi Li.  Acupuncture Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial with Six Months Follow-Up. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative, Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 154108.