There are six people listed in our phone book who do acupuncture. They all advertise a different type of acupuncture. What kind should I get for my chronic low back pain?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice. It has made its way to the west in the last 200 years. Many different types of acupuncture have developed through this process.
Traditional or classical acupuncture chooses the points based on the meridian theory. Meridians are a network of energy pathways through the body. It's believed that each organ has its own network and meridians.
More modern acupuncture uses points on the ear, scalp, hand, or foot. This is called nonmeridian or extrameridian acupuncture.
According to a recent review of acupuncture studies, one type of acupuncture hasn't been proven better than another. In fact, when it comes to using acupuncture for low back pain there are no long-term benefits. It may help with short-term pain relief but doesn't do as well as massage, for example, in the long-run.
Acupuncture along with exercise, heat, back education, or pain relievers is more effective than acupuncture alone.
Andrea D. Furlan, MD, et al. Acupuncture and Dry-Needling for Low Back Pain: An Updated Systematic Review Within the Framework of the Cochrane Collaboration. In Spine. April 15, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 8. Pp. 944-963.
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