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Lower Back Pain – Acupuncture

February 3, 2022


So let’s look at alternative therapies too. And this can be problematic because we don’t have good data about it, but ever since Nixon came back from China acupuncture has been of interest in the United States and is actively practiced. And I say it with a smile and the reason is is that, in terms of my travels and Washington Hospital Center, actually did acupuncture with anesthesiologists and so sort of like Harry Potter, I think I’ve seen the dark arts a little bit. And I can laugh about that. I don’t consider it a dark art, but I do think that we don’t always understand what acupuncture is all about. What we do know is, is that a certain number of patients will be made better. That number isn’t really very high for chronic low back pain. It may be higher for acute low back pain. The place where we get into trouble is, is that is randomization of the patients to the two groups. There have been very, very few studies that have been done where patients in one group get what is called dry needling. In other words, acupuncture defines where the needle’s ought to go and says, according to Chinese principles, this is where you put the needles for this particular thing. So having a true placebo, you’ve got to be needling patients, putting those needles in and putting them into other places so that it’s not in the accepted places. And then comparing those two groups. That research, first of all, it’s tough to do, cause not a lot of people want to sign up for getting potentially needles in places that they aren’t supposed to help them. And then also there hasn’t been a whole lot of enthusiasm for doing that. So we know that some people may get better with acupuncture, but we don’t know how many of them or who is the best patient for that.

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