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J Orthop Surg Res. 2012 Oct 30;7:36. doi: 10.1186/1749-799X-7-36.

The effectiveness of acupuncture in treating chronic non-specific low back pain: a systematic review of the literature.

Author information

  • 1Department of Physiotherapy, Trauma & Orthopaedics, Charing-Cross Hospital, Imperial College NHS Trust, Fulham Palace Road, London, W6 8RF, UK. ajphutch@hotmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Low back pain is a common musculoskeletal disorder defined as pain and soreness, muscle tension, or stiffness in the lumbosacral area of the spine which does not have a specific cause. Low back pain results in high health costs and incapacity to work causing an economic burden to society. The optimal management of non-specific low back pain appears to be undecided. Recently published guidelines support the use of acupuncture for treating non-specific low back pain and it has become a popular alternative treatment modality for patients with low back pain.

METHODS:

A comprehensive systematic literature search was conducted through Medline using Ovid and Medical Subject Headings for randomized controlled trials published in the last 10 years. The outcomes scored were subjective pain scores and functional outcome scores.

RESULTS:

Eighty two randomized studies were identified, of which 7 met our inclusion criteria. Three studies found a significant difference in pain scores when comparing acupuncture, or sham acupuncture, with conventional therapy or no care. Two studies demonstrated a significant difference between acupuncture treatment and no treatment or routine care at 8 weeks and 3 months. Three studies demonstrated no significant difference between acupuncture and minimal/sham acupuncture with no difference in pain relief or function over 6 to 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

This review provides some evidence to support acupuncture as more effective than no treatment, but no conclusions can be drawn about its effectiveness over other treatment modalities as the evidence is conflicting.

PMID:
23111099
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3563482
Free PMC Article
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