Acupuncture for Back Pain

in acupuncture / cupping therapy / massage therapy / naturopathy / nutrition / kinesiology Posted on 

A friend said to me the other day that their favourite childhood memory was when their back didn’t hurt all the time. I laughed. Then I thought of the large number of patients I see in clinic who come to me with non-specific low back pain who up until that point had lived in pain for many years, who could probably relate to my friend’s little joke.

Did you know, according to the latest national health survey reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness, 1 in 6 Australians currently suffer from back pain (that’s 3.7 million Australians). It is the third largest burden on health in Australia and 70-90% of us will experience significant back pain in our lifetimes.

What can you do about it?

Of course, as with most things, prevention is better than the cure. Risk factors include: Poor nutrition, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, being an unhealthy weight, lack of exercise, incorrect lifting techniques, poor physical condition and poor posture. There are other risk factors, which the individual does not have so much control over, such as their age, genetic factors and predispositions, diseases such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease and osteoporosis to name a few. 

However, if you, like 3.7 million other Australians are already stuck in the cycle of back pain and find yourself needing intervention from the experts to get back on top, Acupuncture is well evidenced as an effective treatment for back pain.

Here’s what the science says:

A meta-analysis (that’s where they combine the results of many different studies to determine an overall trend or outcome) of randomised control trials on Acupuncture’s ability to treat back pain, published in 1998 (Ernst & White, 1998) concluded that ‘…Acupuncture was shown to be superior than various control interventions…’ Another meta-analysis published in 2005 (Manheimer et al, 2005) concluded ‘…Acupuncture effectively relieves low back pain…’ A randomised controlled trial in 2006 (Brinkhaus et al, 2006) randomly split 298 patients with chronic low back pain into two groups. One group received acupuncture and the other received no acupuncture. Both groups were allowed to access routine care (such as physiotherapy, pain medication, etc). The study concluded ‘Acupuncture was more effective in improving pain than no acupuncture treatment in patients with chronic low back pain.’ These are just three of the thousands of high quality, scientific studies reporting the benefits and effectiveness of acupuncture for back pain.

How to get help for back pain

If you would like to know more about the benefits of acupuncture for back pain or to know if acupuncture treatment may be able to help you with a specific condition, please feel free to call me, Ben Ludlow, at Integral Acupuncture on (07) 3148 5162 or email me at [email protected] Written by Ben Ludlow – your AHPRA registered acupuncturist and back pain expert.

References and links to further reading:

Ernst E, White AR. Acupuncture for Back Pain: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med. 1998;158(20):2235–2241. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.20.2235

Manheimer E, White A, Berman B, Forys K, Ernst E. Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain. Ann Intern Med. ;142:651–663. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-8-200504190-00014

Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, et al. Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(4):450–457. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.4.450 


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