Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Woman getting an acupuncture treatment in a spa

Overview

Acupuncture is generally safe, relatively inexpensive and has demonstrated efficacy for low back pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine attributes the purpose of acupuncture to the stimulating of the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or energy flow, which control the circulation of blood and affects the body’s response to illness, pain, and disease. By inserting needles into specific pathways called meridians that act as a kind of channel for the Qi, acupuncturists can disrupt blockages and restore the body’s normal Qi flow.

RESCU Treatment Ratings

R = Risk      E = Effectiveness      S = Self-Care

C = Cost     U = Usefulness (overall rating)

1 = Least Favorable     5 = Most Favorable

R

RISK: 5/5

While the risks of health complications due to acupuncture are low, side effects are possible. These can include:

  • Soreness – After acupuncture, soreness, minor bleeding and bruising at needles sites may occur.
  • Organ Injury – If needles are pushed too deeply, they can perforate internal organs such as the lung, however such instances are extremely rare.
  • Infections – Acupuncturists are required to be licensed and to use sterile and disposable needles.
  • Pregnancy – Acupuncture can sometimes stimulate labor, resulting in a premature pregnancy.

Sources:

Lao, Lixing; Hamilton, Gayle R; Fu, Jianping; Berman, Brian M. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 9.1(Jan/Feb 2003): 72-83.

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