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Acupuncture beats conventional therapy

Acupuncture is twice as effective at improving lower back pain than conventional treatments, research suggests.

A study of 1162 patients with a history of eight years of lower back pain found that half of those receiving acupuncture experienced less pain after 6 months compared with only a third of those receiving conventional therapy.

Patients underwent ten acupuncture sessions lasting 30 minutes each, according to the principles of traditional Chinese therapy.

Conventional therapy consisted of a combination of drugs, physical therapy and exercise.

The study demonstrated that even those individuals who received fake acupuncture with superficial needling reported they experienced less pain after 6 months than those who had conventional treatment.

German study author Michael Haake and colleagues said: "Lower back pain improved after acupuncture treatment for at least 6 months. Effectiveness of acupuncture, either verum or sham, was almost twice that of conventional therapy."

Archives of Internal Medicine