Acupuncture/ pressurePain-Back

A review of acupuncture for low back pain

Reviewers from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland believe acupuncture should complement conventional care of low back pain.

First, the details.

  • The reviewers searched the literature for well-designed studies.
  • Studies were included if they scored more than 6/11 on the Van Tulder scale, used appropriate statistics, had at least 40 patients per group, and did not exceed 20% and 30% dropouts at short/intermediate and long-term follow-up, respectively.
    • The 12 van Tulder criteria are listed here.
  • 23 studies of 6359 patients were included.

And, the results.

  • Moderate evidence that acupuncture is more effective than no treatment.
  • Strong evidence of no difference between acupuncture and sham acupuncture, for short-term pain relief.
  • Strong evidence that acupuncture complements conventional treatment for nonspecific low back pain.
  • The effectiveness of acupuncture vs other forms of conventional therapies requires further study.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Acupuncture vs no treatment, and as an adjunct to conventional care, should be advocated in the European Guidelines for the treatment of chronic low back pain.”

11/8/08 19:19 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.