by Alan Jordan
Low back pain is extremely common, affecting 9 out of every 10 of us at some stage in our lives. Back pain is second only to the common cold as a cause of days lost at work. Acupuncture is widely used to treat low back pain and a recent systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration, widely respected as an authoritative and objective source of information, has shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain and that its use provides better pain relief and leads to better function than from the use of conventional therapies alone. A large German study involving over a thousand patients was organised by German insurance companies to assess whether they should reimburse acupuncture for the treatment of low back pain. The research found that acupuncture was nearly twice as effective as conventional treatment including medical advice, physiotherapy and exercise. As a result of these trials, German insurance companies decided to reimburse acupuncture treatment for back pain.
To treat low back pain, needles are usually inserted in the lower back in the region where pain is felt. I often focus on trigger points which are usually situated in the vicinity of the pain but needles may also placed in other places such as the legs.
I usually find that low back pain usually requires at least 4-6 treatments to get on top of the pain, though longstanding pain may require more treatments.
In 2009 the NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) recommended that all patients with low back pain should be offered a course of acupuncture, an exercise programme or a course of manual therapy, such as chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy.
For those who wish to lean more about acupuncture I have recently written a book aimed at those with little or no previous knowledge. It is available from amazon.
Dr Richard Halvorsen