Acupuncture for back pain has been shown to be beneficial and
is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
for persistant non-specific low back pain.
Back pain affects more than 1.1 million people in the UK, with 95% of patients suffering from problems affecting the lower back.
It can affect anyone, at any age, and most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. It is the UKs leading cause of disability and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence.
Back pain currently costs the NHS and community care services more than 1 billion each year*.
Most lower back pain isn’t caused by serious damage or disease but by sprains, strains and minor injuries, or pinched and irritated nerves.It can also occur because of stress, viral infection, kidney infections or during pregnancy.
Would acupuncture for back pain help me?
Research shows that acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and at least as good as (if not better than) standard medical care for back pain (Witt 2006, Haake 2007, Cherkin 2009, Sherman 2009a). It appears to be particularly useful as an adjunct to conventional care, for patients with more severe symptoms and for those wishing to avoid analgesic drugs (Sherman 2009a, 2009b, Lewis 2010). It may help back pain in pregnancy (Ee 2008) and work-related back pain, with fewer work-days lost (Weidenhammer 2007, Sawazaki 2008).
How would acupuncture for back pain help me?
- Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008).
- Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
- Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
- Reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).
- Providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006, Witt 2006).
- Improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008, Yuan 2008).
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain*.
* National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clinical guideline 88 – Low back pain.
How do I book an appointment?
Click here for details about how to book appointments.
Click here for details about fees.
Hopton A, MacPherson H. Acupuncture for chronic pain: is acupuncture more than an effective placebo? A systematic review of pooled data from meta-analyses. Pain Pract 2010; 10: 94-102.
Lewis K, Abdi S. Acupuncture for lower back pain: A review. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2010; 26(1)(pp 60-69)
Sherman KJ, Coeytaux RR. Acupuncture for the treatment of common pain conditions: Chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, and headache. Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management. 2009a; 16(5)(pp 224-230), 2009a.
Yuan J, Purepong N, Kerr DP, Park J et al. Effectiveness of acupuncture for low back pain: a systematic review. Spine. 2008 Nov 1;33(23):E887-900.
Ammendolia C, Furlan AD, Imamura M, Irvin E, van Tulder M. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with needle acupuncture. Spine J. 2008 Jan-Feb;8(1):160-72.
Ee CC, Manheimer E, Pirotta MV, White AR. Acupuncture for pelvic and back pain in pregnancy: a systematic review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008; 198(3):254-9.
Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, Linde K et al. Acupuncture in patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Feb 27;166(4):450-7.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, Erro JH, et al. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169(9):858-66.
Haake M, Maller HH, Schade-Brittinger C, Basler HD, et al. German Acupuncture Trials (GERAC) for chronic low back pain: randomized, multicenter, blinded, parallel-group trial with 3 groups. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Sep 24;167(17):1892-8.
Ratcliffe J, Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Brazier J. A randomised controlled trial of acupuncture care for persistent low back pain: cost effectiveness analysis, BMJ. 2006 Sep 23;333(7569):626.
Sherman KJ., Cherkin DC, Ichikawa L, Avins AL et al. Characteristics of patients with chronic back pain who benefit from acupuncture. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2009b; 10(1): article 114
Witt CM, Jena S, Selim D, Brinkhaus B et al. Pragmatic randomized trial evaluating the clinical and economic effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Sep 1;164(5):487-96.
Sawazaki K, Mukaino Y, Kinoshita F, Honda T et al. Acupuncture can reduce perceived pain, mood disturbances and medical expenses related to low back pain among factory employees. Ind Health. 2008 Aug;46(4):336-40.
Thomas KJ, MacPherson H, Thorpe L, Brazier J et al. Randomised controlled trial of a short course of traditional acupuncture compared with usual care for persistent non-specific low back pain. BMJ. 2006 Sep 23;333(7569):623.
Weidenhammer W, Linde K, Streng A, Hoppe A, Melchart D. Acupuncture for chronic low back pain in routine care: a multicenter observational study. Clin J Pain. 2007 Feb;23(2):128-35.
Kavoussi B, Ross BE. The neuroimmune basis of anti-inflammatory acupuncture. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(3):251-7.
Kim HW, Uh DK, Yoon SY, Roh DH et al. Low-frequency electroacupuncture suppresses carrageenan-induced paw inflammation in mice via sympathetic post-ganglionic neurons, while high-frequency EA suppression is mediated by the sympathoadrenal medullary axis. Brain Res Bull. 2008 Mar 28;75(5):698-705.
Komori M, Takada K, Tomizawa Y, Nishiyama K, et al. Microcirculatory responses to acupuncture stimulation and phototherapy. Anesth Analg. 2009 Feb;108(2):635-40.
Pomeranz B. Scientific basis of acupuncture. In: Stux G, Pomeranz B, eds. Acupuncture Textbook and Atlas. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag; 1987:1-18.
Zhao ZQ. Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Prog Neurobiol. 2008 Aug;85(4):355-75.
Zijlstra FJ, van den Berg-de Lange I, Huygen FJ, Klein J. Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators Inflamm. 2003 Apr;12(2):59-69.