Acupuncture for Chronic Lower Back Pain: The Latest Research

Chronic lower back pain is defined as: pain in the lower back that lasts longer than 3 months. Investigation into the cause of this ongoing pain has uncovered a complex mix of biological, social and psychological contributing factors. With limited effective diagnostic and treatment options available, Lower Back Pain continues to be a widespread health problem in society.

More effective than mainstream care
Recent large clinical trials done in Germany and America indicate that Acupuncture is more clinically effective in the treatment of chronic lower back pain than mainstream care (physiotherapy, exercises and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). [1][2]

Cost effective and government endorsed treatment
Analysis of treatment costs done in British and German studies also show that Acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment for chronic lower back pain. [3][4] This has led to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in Britain to advise, “Consider offering a course of acupuncture needling comprising up to a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks.”, in their guidelines for managing chronic lower back pain. [5]

“…Acupuncture is more clinically effective in the treatment of chronic lower back pain than mainstream care.”

Not just a placebo
A 2012 review of high quality research shows that Acupuncture is an effective treatment option for chronic pain in general. Results from this review indicate that Acupuncture treatment effects are more than just a placebo. [6]

Acupuncture for your Lower Back Pain
The latest research indicates that a course of Acupuncture treatments can help decrease chronic lower back pain and improve overall quality of life. Acupuncture treatments are complementary, and can be used in conjunction with other clinically proven treatments such as exercise therapy, spinal manipulations and cognitive behavioural therapy.

1. Haake M, Müller HH, Schade BC, Basler HD, et al. German acupuncture trials (GERAC) for chronic low back pain: randomized, multicenter, blinded, parallel-group trial with 3 groups. Arch Intern Med.2007;167 (17):1892–1898.

2. Cherkin D, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, et al. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):858–866.

3. Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Ratcliffe J, et al. Longer term clinical and economic benefits of offering acupuncture care to patients with chronic low back pain. Health Technol Assess. 2005;9 (32):1–128.

4. Brinkhaus B, Streng A. Routine reimbursement for acupuncture in Germany for chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis of the knee – a ‘healthy’ decision? Focus Altern Complement Ther.2006;11:286–8.

5. Savigny P, Watson P, Underwood M. on behalf of the Guideline Development Group. Early management of persistent non-specific low back pain: summary of NICE guidance. BMJ.2009;338:1441–2.

6. Vickers A, et al “Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis” Arch Intern Med 2012; DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.