Effectiveness and acceptance of acupuncture for low back pain
There was a study involved 18000 patients with chronic pain including low back pain. This study showed that the effect of acupuncture was more than placebo. There was a further evidence provided by research from Germany showing that acupuncture is effective for chronic low back pain and acupuncture was highly accepted and had positive effects in patients with chronic low back pain. This was a randomized controlled trial. There were 143 participants with chronic low back pain. 74 patients were offered acupuncture twice a week, while other 69 patients were not given acupuncture as a control. Acceptance of acupuncture, health-related quality of life and pain/symptoms were assessed. The result of the study showed that acceptance of acupuncture was excellent. 89% of the patients would like to have TCM integrated treatment and 83% would have paid for TCM if necessary. Physical functioning, general health, vitality and emotional role were all better in patients with acupuncture treatment compared with control group. Pain relief in acupuncture group was superior to the control group. For instance, pain with sitting/standing, pain upon carrying loads of 10 kg or more and pricking in hands and feet were significantly reduced. Author’s conclusion was that acupuncture was highly accepted and had positive effects in patients with chronic low back pain. Acupuncture can be an effective, well tolerated therapy with no major side events.
Why acupuncture is effective for low back pain?
There are several mechanisms that explained the effectiveness of acupuncture on pain relief. Acupuncture stimulates nerve endings located in muscles and other tissues leading to production of endorphins and other neurohormonal factors. Acupuncture reduces inflammation by releasing vascular and immunomodulatory factors. Acupuncture increases local blood circulation and improves muscle stiffness, joint mobility and swelling. Also how brain and spinal cord processing pain has been altered. In neuroscience, the default mode network (DMN) is a functional network of brain regions that show increased activation during wakeful rest. In patients with low back pain, this DMNconectivity has changed. Acupuncture has been widely accepted for effective low back pain treatment. How acupuncture affect DMN is not clear. Tang et al studied this subject. They used RsfMRI technique to analyse the connectivity of DMN and recruited 20 patients with low back pain and 10 health subjects for controls. They found that there was less connectivity within the DMN in patients with low back pain than healthy subjects, mainly in the dorsolateral, prefrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulated gyrus and precuneus. After 4 weeks acupuncture treatment, patients brain connectivitys were restored almost to the levels seen in healthy controls. Reductions in clinical pain were correlated with increases in DMN connectivity. It can be seen from this data, modulation of the DMN by acupuncture is related to its therapeutic effects.
Standardization of acupuncture points for low back pain
TCM diagnoses and treatment recommendations for specific patients with chronic low back pain vary widely across practitioners. If you go and see a few different acupuncturists, you would get acupuncture at different points. There are no standardized acupuncture points for any conditions. A study has shown that twenty diagnoses and 65 acupoints were used at least once; and only one point UB23 was used for every patient by most acupuncturists. In China standardization of acupuncture points was encouraged to achieve best outcome of the treatment. There was a study compared the efficacy of standardized acupuncture and individualised acupuncture points. In this study up to 15 sessions of acupuncture treatments were offered. The standardized acupuncture was based on the acupuncture intervention from a large multicenter trial previously performed. 78 patients were in the standard acupuncture group and 72 patients were in the individual acupuncture group. Both acupuncture interventions were applied by the same medical doctor specialized in western general medicine (25 years of clinical practice) and trained in Chinese medicine with 20 years' experience in treating low back pain with acupuncture. The result has shown that the average pain severity after 8 weeks and 26 weeks did not differ significantly between both groups. This study has shown the possibility of standardization of acupuncture treatment for chronic back pain patients.
Which acupuncture points are frequently used in lower back pain?
There are over 400 acupuncture points in human body according to Chinese medicine theory. The selection of appropriate acupuncture points is the first step to obtain therapeutic effects. How acupuncturists select acupuncture points? There are three basic principles to select acupuncture points: the first is local acupoints near the area where symptoms occur; the second is distant acupoints along the meridian and the third is distant acupoints based on symptom differentiation. Lee SH et al analysed acupuncture points from 53 studies using modern techniques to extract most commonly used acupuncture points. There were 33 most frequently used acupoints for lower back pain (LBP). The most frequently used acupoints in the treatment of low-back pain were BL23 (51%), BL25 (43%), BL24 (32%), BL40 (32%), BL60 (32%), GB30 (32%), BL26 (28%), BL32 (28%), and GB34 (21%). All local acupoints for LBP are on the Bladder and the Governing vessel especially at the low back position of these meridians. Most of the distant acupoints are on the Bladder and Gallbladder meridians. The acupoints include seven acupoints (BL23, BL24, BL25, BL26, and BL32 as local points and BL40 and BL60 as distal points) on the bladder meridian and two acupoints (GB30 as a local point and GB34 as a distal point) on the gallbladder meridian.
Pach D et al (2013) Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013:125937
Hogeboom CJ et al (2001) Complement Ther Med 9:154-66
Tang WJ et al Acupunct Med 2013 Nove 26. Doi:10.1136/acupmed-2013-010423
Cheshire A et al BMC Complement Altern Med (2013)13:300
Lee SH et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2013) 2013:402180
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Koppenhaver SL et al Man Ther (2015) Mar 13. pii: S1356-689X(15)00051-X. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.03.003. [Epub ahead of print]
Welcome to my blog
Leading acupuncture specialist for facial rejuvenation, pain relief, stress relief, fertility, fatigue, anxiety.
Based at Kensington and Chelsea at Central London. Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences
Facial aging and Facial rejuvenation acupuncture
Fertility and acupuncture10 Reasons why you should try acupuncture for
Fertility and acupuncture10 Reasons why you should try acupuncture for
Guest blog articles and Reviews
Guest blog articles
M Ju. (2015) What Part Does Acupuncture Play in IVF?
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 22 Issue 1 March 2015 P21
M Ju (2014) Current opinion in acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 21 Issue 1 September 2014 P9
Saturday, 2 March 2019
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