Acupuncture for Back Pain

Back pain can be ongoing, frustrating and debilitating.  For some, this is a temporary setback, for others, back pain progresses to a chronic disease that seriously diminishes quality of life.  Acupuncture is one of the few non-invasive therapies that have been shown in clinical trials to benefit back pain long-term.  More than just pain relief, acupuncture changes the way the nervous system interacts with the musculoskeletal system to restore balance.  Based on re-establishing coordination of the musculature and fascia, Sports Medicine Acupuncture changes range of motion and strength immediately.  This directly benefits the spine and posture.


The ancient technique of acupuncture helps relieve chronic back pain better than standard care such as medications or physical therapy, according to a new study.

This study of 638 patients published in the Archives of Internal Medicine measured back pain-related problems and dysfunction at eight weeks, a half year, and one year after the treatments.

Those who received acupuncture treatments were more likely than those getting usual care to have a “meaningful” improvement in the dysfunction scale, which reflects the ability to engage in activities of daily living. Overall, 60% of the acupuncture-treated patients, but just 39% of the usual-care group patients, had meaningful improvements in dysfunction, the researchers found.

That translated to those in the acupuncture group being able to do more daily activities, such as going to social functions or performing household tasks, Dr Cherkin tells WebMD.

After a year, those in the acupuncture groups were also more likely than the usual-care group to continue to have improvement in dysfunction, with up to 65% of the acupuncture-treated patients but just 50% of the usual-care patients still reporting improvements.

Another study of 1162 patients over six months published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that acupuncture was almost twice as effective as conventional therapy in alleviating pain (Von Korff Chronic Pain Grade) and benefitting function (Hanover Functional Ability Questionnaire).

Finally, in response to the evidence, the International Neuromodulation Society determined acupuncture to have the “strongest evidence in the literature for good efficacy and outcomes among noninvasive and alternative therapies.  It was compared with therapies with weaker evidence including chiropractic manipulation, yoga, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, low-level laser therapy, back schools, thermal modalities, acupressure, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, reflexology, biofeedback, progressive relaxation, hypnosis, and aromatherapy



“I’ve been involved in sports my whole life from swimming in college, running half marathons and a handful of full marathons, to curling competitively. Curling has taken a toll on my hip and after bouncing around between a few chiropractors, massage therapists and orthopedic surgeons, I decided to try acupuncture. Not being a fan of needles (which is possibly why it was the last choice for me), Josh was excellent at making me feel comfortable. I’ve been to many doctors/therapists in my life for a variety of different sport incurred injuries. Josh definitely is one of the best and as far as back and hip pain is concerned, he is the only person that has been able to help me. I have and will continue to refer everyone I know to him.”

— Vicky

“I am a workman’s comp patient with chronic back pain. I had tried every therapy unsuccessfully and was facing either pill dependence or a second spinal fusion. I was in pain, unhappy and at the end of my rope.


My life turned around when I met Josh. My skepticism about acupuncture evaporated when I immediately regained the ability to sleep. And it just got better. I now enjoy a quality of life I didn’t believe possible.


I have been gently treated by an insightful, experienced professional whom I cannot recommend highly enough. ”

— Alicia



D Cherkin, PhD, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(9):858-866

M Haake, et al. German Acupuncture Trials (Gerac) For Chronic Low Back PainRandomized, Multicenter, Blinded, Parallel-Group Trial With 3 Groups. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898.

Wellington J. Noninvasive and alternative management of chronic low back pain (efficacy and outcomes). Neuromodulation. 2014 Oct;17 Suppl 2:24-30.

Back pain includes: low back pain, lumbago, facet joint impingement, soft tissue injury, sciatica, disc herniation, osteophytes, bone spurs, spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, stenosis, kyphosis, scoliosis, spinal chord injury, rib injury, thoracic pain, weakness, numbness, tingling in midback, low back, glutes, hip, legs and feet.

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