Back pain

Back pain can affect anyone at any age and most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. It is the UK’s leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence.

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. 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. It may help with back pain during pregnancy and work-related back pain, with fewer work days lost. Acupuncture has in some meta-analyses been found superior to sham acupuncture while in others the advantage was not statistically significant. The sham interventions are not inactive placebos, but effectively different versions of acupuncture, so their value in evaluating treatment efficacy is highly questionable. 

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Acupuncture can help back pain by: 

  • providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues,        acupuncture leads to the release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • reducing inflammation – by promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.

  • improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.

  • reducing the use of medication for back complaints.

  • providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time.

  • improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises.