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Latest acupuncture trial for back pain

The current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine (17 September 2007) has a report of a German study of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. The findings agree with those of several other German studies published recently, which show that acupuncture does work but it often makes little difference where the needles are inserted. Acupuncture, in other words, does not depend on the traditional theory; whether or not it is just a placebo remains an open question.

This article is reported in today's Independent, and is accompanied by a rather misleading case history. A young student had severe back pain which is responding to twice-weekly acupuncture from a traditional acupunturist. Each session lasts 50 minutes and costs £45, so she is apparently paying £90 a week regularly.

I would regard this as a treatment failure. If acupuncture is successful its effects should last much longer than this; the research article quotes six months. It is also unnecessary to leave the needles in for 50 minutes; quite brief insertion, lasting no more than a few minutes or even seconds, is equally effective and much more practical for use in a NHS setting.

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Mark Kestner on :

I am very interested in your approach. The treatment durations and other characteristics are similar to those I observed to be successful in my own practice before becoming aware of your work and that of Dr. Mann.

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