National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain

In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, acupuncture or simulated acupuncture treatments fared better than usual care in managing low back pain. However, neither tailoring acupuncture needle sites to the individual nor penetrating the skin appeared to be essential for receiving therapeutic benefit. These results are of importance to patients and practitioners seeking a relatively safe and effective treatment for back pain.

According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, 17.1 percent of American adults who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) reported using it for back pain, making back pain the leading reason for CAM use. The same survey found that more than 3 million adults used acupuncture, a CAM treatment used for back pain.

Publication Date: 
May 11, 2009

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