CHICAGO: Acupuncture provided twice as many patients relief from lower back pain as did conventional drug and exercise therapy, which German researchers said on Monday might point to a "superplacebo" effect.
In a study of 1,162 adults with chronic lower back pain, 48% of those in a group who underwent between 10 and 15 treatments with traditional Chinese "verum" acupuncture reported at least one-third less pain and an improvement in functional ability, with lasting benefits.
That compared to 27% of those reporting relief in the group undergoing drug and exercise therapy.
In verum acupuncture, 14 to 20 needles are inserted up to 1-1/2 inches deep at "medians" and other prescribed locations until the patient is said to experience a numbing sensation, called Qi.
A third group of patients underwent 'sham' acupuncture, where needles are inserted randomly and less deeply around the painful area while avoiding medians. Of these, 44% reported relief from their back pain — more patients than conventional therapy and only slightly fewer than traditional acupuncture. Between 70% and 85% of people complain of back pain at some point in their lives, according to the study.
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