Acupuncture can be an effective way of treating back pain, according to new research.
The technique, which involves needles being inserted into certain points of the body, has always courted controversy, with some confident that it triggers an improvement in health while others believe it simply produces a placebo effect.
A new study, published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal, claims that acupuncture has a small but significant benefit for people with pain in their lower back.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield found that patients undergoing acupuncture were significantly more likely to be very satisfied with their treatment after three months than those receiving regular NHS care.
In addition, although it is relatively expensive in the short-term, acupuncture treatment is cost-effective in the long-term, the authors wrote.
They found that the total NHS costs during the two-year study were, on average, higher than the cost of the acupuncture patients' treatment.
They concluded: "Our study contributes evidence for a short term acupuncture intervention compared with usual general practitioner care for non-specific low back pain."
Around 16 per cent of the UK population have to visit their GP every year with lower back problems, costing the NHS around £480 million.
In addition, many more patients visit private doctors
in order to seek treatment for their back pain, although only two per cent are believed to turn to acupuncture.© Adfero Ltd
Acupuncture and back pain news : 15/09/2006