Back Pain Study Finds "Sham Acupuncture" Can be Effective
David Hope
Apr 26, 2011, 06:05

Back pain can become a long term or chronic issue for many - and finding a good relief for that pain is difficult, unless you don't mind relying on strong pain medications and their side effects.

There is little evidence acupuncture is effective in reducing pain but it can have serious adverse effects, British and South Korean researchers said.

Lead investigator Dr. Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School Universities of Exeter & Plymouth in England, and colleagues at the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon, South Korea, evaluated systematic reviews. Of 266 found, 56 were categorized as acceptable systematic reviews.

Recent results from high-quality randomized controlled trials have shown that various forms of acupuncture -- including "sham acupuncture," during which no needles actually penetrate the skin -- are equally effective for chronic low back pain. The effects were attributed to such factors as therapist conviction, patient enthusiasm or the acupuncturist's communication style.

"Acupuncture remains associated with serious adverse effects," Ernst says in a statement.

The findings, scheduled to be published in the April issue of the journal Pain, found 38 cases of infections caused by acupuncture, 42 cases of trauma, 13 other adverse effects and five patients deaths. Many of the adverse side effects were not intrinsic to acupuncture, but from malpractice of acupuncturists, the study found.

Source: UPI

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