Back Pain

A little context for you
Research has shown that Acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and at least as good as (if not better
than) standard medical care for back pain (Witt 2006; Haake 2007; Cherkin 2009; Sherman 2009a).
It appears to be particularly useful as an adjunct to conventional care, for patients with more severe symptoms and for those wishing to avoid analgesic drugs (Sherman 2009a, 2009b; Lewis 2010).
It may help back pain in pregnancy (Ee 2008) and work-related back pain, with fewer workdays lost (Weidenhammer 2007; Sawazaki 2008).

Acupuncture has in some meta-analyses been found superior to sham acupuncture (Hopton 2010) while in others the advantage was not statistically significant (Yuan 2008; Ammendolia 2008).

Acupuncture can help back pain by:

Providing pain relief - by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of
endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).

Reducing inflammation - by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).

Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.

Reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006)

Providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture with an acupuncturist  as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain*

* National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clinical guideline 88 - Low back pain.