Electroacupuncture can reduce disability caused by chronic lower back pain, says study
In electroacupuncture, electric current of various frequencies is passed through the needles once they are inserted at the specific locations on the body.
Chronic pain in the lower back affects millions of people worldwide and is suggested to be one of the most common causes of disabilities in the world.
Current treatments for the condition are not without side effects and can lead to addiction or surgical complications.
Now, a group of researchers in the USA say that electroacupuncture, a type of acupuncture procedure that uses electric current, can help better cope with chronic lower back pain.
The findings of the study are published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
Chronic lower back pain and acupuncture
Chronic lower back pain happens when pain in the lower back persists for more than 12 weeks even when the underlying cause of the pain is treated. As per the National Institute of Health, lower back pain becomes chronic in about 20 percent of people, who then go on to experience symptoms for more than a year. The pain does not always have an underlying medical cause.
Acupuncture is a procedure from Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves the insertion of thin needles into a person’s skin at specific points in the body. The procedure is believed to aid in balancing chi or prana and is mainly used for pain relief.
Though research has not found acupuncture to be any better than a placebo for pain management, preclinical studies have shown the analgesic effects of electroacupuncture. In electroacupuncture, electric current of various frequencies is passed through the needles once they are inserted at the specific locations on the body.
So far, there isn’t strong evidence to prove the effectiveness of electroacupuncture in pain management in humans.
The new study
For the study, the researchers recruited 121 adults with chronic lower back pain. About 59 of these patients (test group) were given electroacupuncture and the rest (control group) were given sham electroacupuncture.
All the participants were between the ages of 21 and 65 years and had chronic lower back pain for at least six months. They were given 12 real or sham treatment sessions of 45 minutes each within a span of six weeks.
Two weeks after the treatment, all the patients were analysed for the presence of pain and disability.
Pain reduction was not noted in either of the groups. However, the test group reported a reduction in their disability score. No side effects were noted in any of the participants.
The study authors pointed out that this was a post hoc analysis and was not their initial plan. Although this does affect the results of the study in a way, more and larger clinical studies will be needed to replicate the findings of this study.
For more information, read our article on Back pain.
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