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Sun 1 Oct 2006 12:00 AM

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Acupuncture worthwhile

Acupuncture has a small but significant benefit for patients with low back pain, and appears to be cost-effective in the longer term, two studies have found.

Researchers identified 241 adults aged 18 to 65 with persistent non-specific low back pain.

Patients were randomly assigned to either standard NHS care or up to 10 acupuncture treatment sessions.

Pain levels were measured at intervals during the two-year study period. Satisfaction with treatment and use of pain medication were also recorded.

At 24 months, the acupuncture group were more likely to report reduced worry about their back pain, less likely to report current use of pain medication for their back, and more likely to report no pain for the past 12 months.

The results were published in the British Medical Journal.

Although the differences in pain scores between groups were small, acupuncture represents a clinically worthwhile, cost-effective treatment, say the authors.

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