Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain

Date:
May 15, 2009
Source:
JAMA and Archives Journals
Summary:
Three types of acupuncture therapy -- an individually tailored program, standard therapy and a simulation involving toothpicks at key acupuncture points -- appear more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, according to a new article.

Three types of acupuncture therapy—an individually tailored program, standard therapy and a simulation involving toothpicks at key acupuncture points—appear more effective than usual care for chronic low back pain, according to a new report.

Related Articles


Back pain costs Americans at least $37 billion annually, according to background information in the article. Many patients with this condition are unsatisfied with traditional medical care and seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. "Back pain is the leading reason for visits to licensed acupuncturists, and medical acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain," the authors write.

Several recent studies have suggested that simulated acupuncture, or shallow needling on parts of the body not considered key acupuncture points, appear as effective as acupuncture involving penetrating the skin. To expand on these results, Daniel C. Cherkin, Ph.D., of Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle, and colleagues compared four different types of treatment in a randomized clinical trial involving 638 adults (average age 47) with chronic low back pain at Group Health in Seattle and Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland.

During the seven-week treatment period, 157 participants received 10 acupuncture treatments in a manner individually prescribed by a diagnostic acupuncturist; 158 underwent a standardized course of acupuncture treatments considered effective by experts for low back pain; 162 received 10 sessions of simulated acupuncture, in which practitioners used a toothpick inside of an acupuncture needle guide tube to mimic the insertion, stimulation and removal of needles; and 161 received usual care. Participants reported changes in their symptoms and in the amount of dysfunction caused by their back pain by phone after eight, 26 and 52 weeks.

"Compared with usual care, individualized acupuncture, standardized acupuncture and simulated acupuncture had beneficial and persisting effects on chronic back pain," the authors write. At the eight-week follow-up, 60 percent of the participants receiving any type of acupuncture (individualized, standardized or simulated) experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in their level of functioning, compared with 39 percent of those receiving usual care. At the one-year follow-up, 59 percent to 65 percent of those in the acupuncture groups experienced an improvement in function compared with 50 percent of the usual care group.

Several possible explanations exist for the effectiveness of simulated acupuncture, the authors note. Superficial stimulation of acupuncture points may directly stimulate physiological processes that result in reduced pain and improved function. Alternatively, the improvement may be due to another aspect of the treatment experience, such as interaction with the therapist or a belief that acupuncture will be helpful. "These findings raise questions about acupuncture's purported mechanisms of action," they write. "It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or non-specific effects."

"Our results have important implications for key stakeholders," they conclude. "For clinicians and patients seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for a condition for which conventional treatments are often ineffective, various methods of acupuncture point stimulation appear to be reasonable options, even though the mechanism of action remains unclear. Furthermore, the reduction in long-term exposure to the potential adverse effects of medications is an important benefit that may enhance the safety of conventional medical care."

This trial was funded through a National Institutes of Health Cooperative Agreement with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The sponsor (NIH), though its project officer, co-author Dr. Khalsa, was involved in the analysis and interpretation of data and review and approval of the manuscript. Lhasa OMS Inc., Weymouth, Mass., donated the Seirin acupuncture needles used in this study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cherkin et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009; 169 (9): 858 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.65

Cite This Page:

JAMA and Archives Journals. "Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511164228.htm>.
JAMA and Archives Journals. (2009, May 15). Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511164228.htm
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Real And Simulated Acupuncture Appear More Effective Than Usual Care For Back Pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511164228.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins