Lower back pain is debilitating, affecting as many as eight out of ten people. Recent studies have demonstrated that acupuncture successfully provides more effective relief of lower back pain for many people than traditional medical treatments do.

Severity of lower back pain

Fox News relayed information from reports that lower back pain is the number one “leading cause of job disability worldwide.” In studies, traditional medications and even surgery were often unsuccessful in relieving the pain. Americans spend an estimated $50 billion every year on attempting to get relief from chronic back pain. Now acupuncture is being recognized as a very effective treatment for lower back pain.

Acupuncture for back pain

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), there are “promising findings” in the use of acupuncture in treating back pain, particularly in patients who do not obtain considerable relief from traditional treatments. Eric Manheimer, study author and director of database and evaluation for the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, commented about the results of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, U.K. He said study results concluded, “For people with chronic low back pain, this analysis shows that acupuncture is clearly effective in providing considerable pain relief.” He stated that study participants experienced “true relief” from back pain with acupuncture treatments.

Additional studies confirm acupuncture successfully treats lower back pain

The Healthcare Institute cites a study conducted by Dongzhimen Hospital in Beijing, China with a group of 60 participants who were experiencing chronic low back pain. Acupuncture successfully reduced pain in study participants so much so that there were fewer days of missed work due to back pain. Another study produced similar results, with a group of 236 study participants. Researchers concluded acupuncture has “beneficial and persistent effectiveness” against chronic lower back pain (CLBP). After one study concluded that acupuncture benefits were no better at relieving pain than sham, or placebo acupuncture, a new and larger study disputed the earlier study result. Time reported study results, conducted by researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Results of that study concluded  “the benefits of real acupuncture are due to something more than the placebo effect.” Research leader Andrew Vickers, epidemiologist and biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, stated “The effects of acupuncture are statistically significant and different from those of sham or placebo treatments.” He also explained, “So we conclude that the effects aren’t due merely to the placebo effect.”

Number of acupuncture treatments needed to relieve the pain

As with conventional medical treatments, how often you visit your acupuncturist and the number of treatments necessary to obtain maximum relief will depend on a number of factors. Document each day that back pain occurs, along with debilitating factors, such as if you are unable to go to work or to the grocery store. Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. This will be more helpful than trying to remember off the top of your head at your first visit. There is no set number of acupuncture treatments that will successfully relieve your back pain. Individualized acupuncture treatment tailored to your specific needs will give the greatest potential for optimal lower back pain relief.