After six months 47% of patients in the acupuncture group reported a significant improvement in pain symptoms, compared to 44% in the sham group, and just 27% in the group who received conventional therapy.
Dr James Young, of Chicago's Rush University, said: "We don't understand the mechanisms of these so-called alternative treatments, but that doesn't mean they don't work."
Acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese theory that needles can be used to release the body's vital energy, or qi.
Conventional therapies tested in the study included painkillers, injections, heat therapy and massage.
When relieving the pain is paramount, especially if its chronic, this should be an option in medical practices. Don't worry if its a first time nervous shaking newbie with the needles. Results show that the inexperienced, squeamish or ham handed may well help manage the pain as the study demonstrated acupuncture pretenders even had better results than accepted medical methods. The needles are inserted into the skin between 5 to 40 millimeters - that's a wide margin for error. Eastern approaches to medicine have picked up in the last decade in the west. Now comes the latest medical study further showing a more holistic approach to medicine is needed in traditional western medical schools.
America needs a real overhaul of its health care delivery system, but it needs to be flexible enough to incorporate these type of medical advances and Eastern medical treatments into future plans. Acupuncture is an ancient science that should be an available treatment to everyone, especially if it has been persistent and precluded people from living a high quality of life and work at higher paying jobs that once were off limits. Alternative medicine is becoming mainstream.
"The evidence as a whole suggests that the benefits of true acupuncture over sham acupuncture are almost clinically irrelevant," Eric Manheimer, MS, of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine tells WebMD. "The reasons for this are not really clear. It may be that putting the needles anywhere stimulates some sort of analgesic effect."
Acupuncture is still considered an alternative treatment for low back pain in the U.S., but this is no longer the case in Germany. Based on findings from the newly reported study, it is now covered by state health insurance.
Interestingly enough, this is a required eminently readable text from the California State Board. Two masters gives practical information on acupuncture. Chen Jirui and Nissi Wang offer the great book, Acupuncture Case Histories From China. The cover is beautiful.