Chronic low back pain is the most common reason that people seek complimentary medical care in North America.
According to clinical practice guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians in 2007, acupuncture is one of several CAM therapies physicians should consider when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to conventional treatment. Recommendations like this are becoming more commonplace in North America as the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture accumulates.
A large, rigorously designed clinical trial reported in May 2009 found that acupuncture was more effective than conventional treatment for relieving chronic low-back pain.
Here in Canada, a 2005 study of 75 Canadian postal workers evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture versus standardized physiotherapy for chronic low back pain, Acupuncture was administered twice per week for 12 weeks. Participants were also counselled to eat a diet high in omega 3 fats, calcium and magnesium.
At the end of the study, participants in the group receiving acupuncture reported significantly lower back pain and improved low back range of motion compared to the group receiving only physiotherapy. The acupuncture group also reported a greater improvement in overall quality of life.
The authors of the study concluded that acupuncture provided significantly greater improvement than physiotherapy alone for chronic low back pain.
Acupuncture is generally considered to be a safe treatment option when performed correctly by a properly trained physician. Naturopathic Doctors are one of the regulated health professions that are trained and regulated to perform acupuncture in Ontario.