The Associated Press is reporting about research conducted in Germany with the headline “Study: Acupuncture Works for Back Pain”. Strangely enough, what is found right below the headline reveals a somewhat different truth: “Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care…” Judging by the words themselves, it would seem that acupuncture actually does not do a better job than a placebo, unless AP‘s editors think that acupuncture and “fake” acupuncture are really the same thing. Regardless, the study was done and here is the summary for those on either side of this debate:
In the largest experiment on acupuncture for back pain to date, more than 1,100 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional therapy. For the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted, but not as deeply as for the real thing. The sham acupuncture also did not insert needles in traditional acupuncture points on the body and the needles were not manually moved and rotated.
After six months, patients answered questions about pain and functional ability and their scores determined how well each of the therapies worked.
In the real acupuncture group, 47 percent of patients improved. In the sham acupuncture group, 44 percent did. In the usual care group, 27 percent got relief.
More from the AP article…