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What is acupuncture?

These were specifically for chronic lower back pain. One these studies expressed promise that acupuncture could be better than most pain medications.

Acupuncture for pets

The other study revealed that success depends on certain limitations to how therapy is administered. Avoid receiving acupuncture from someone who is not qualified or certified. It helps to do background research on a practitioner. Or, talk to someone you trust who has seen an acupuncturist for back pain. Ask them about practitioners they would recommend or refer. People who have received acupuncture sometimes report soreness, bruising, and minor bleeding at puncture sites. These issues should clear up and go away in a few days.

It also poses little to no risk to overall health. Talk to your acupuncturist about your pregnancy beforehand. If you take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder , acupuncture poses some health risks.

Managing pain and other medically proven uses of acupuncture | Journal of Anaesthesia Practice

Make sure to discuss your issues and medications with your acupuncturist before therapy. Bleeding can happen during the therapy, though this is rare. Needles must be sterile and disposable. But, make sure to keep puncture sites clean after each session to prevent risk of infection. Risk of infection is small if you see a well-trained professional. If you want to try acupuncture for relief from back pain, you may want to talk to your regular doctor first.

Make sure to discuss whether acupuncture would be best for you. There is also the question of cost. Before setting up an appointment, also make sure that you contact a professional licensed in your state. An acupuncturist should have proper training, licensing, and certification to administer safe treatments. Each state has a board of health that monitors and registers acupuncture practices. There are ways to use the internet to find a qualified and certified acupuncturist in your area.

However, keep in mind that one acupuncture treatment does not provide a cure for back pain. Acupuncture commonly takes numerous treatments over time for the best outcome. Even if your first session was successful, expect to schedule more appointments. Also, expect that pain can and does usually return. Most people may invest in a weekly session until they experience improvement.

Acupuncture: In Depth

Afterward, they start scheduling sessions further apart, such as every other week, then monthly. Acupuncture can be a successful go-to therapy for chronic back pain. It can apply to either lower or upper back pain. Research shows that it could be helpful for many people. It could even be better for back pain than certain medications. The efficacy of acupuncture is backed by research, and a qualified, well-trained professional, can provide safe treatment.

related stories

Still, acupuncture may not be for everyone. Talk with your doctor and acupuncturist about whether acupuncture is right for you. Back pain is something most people will experience in their lifetime. Find out what's causing your back pain and what the best treatments are. Chronic pain is pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks. Learn about the causes, risk factors, and treatments for chronic pain. To avoid the side effects and possible toxicity of medications, you might turn to natural painkillers instead.

Check out these five surprising options. Dry needling is a modern treatment designed to ease muscular pain. Jennifer Frost, M. This is especially important given the effects of the ongoing opioid epidemic on pain management. But FPs also may need more guidance about the efficacy of these treatments. But without training in the benefits, harms and indications, we are not comfortable prescribing them," said Frost.

Another obstacle is payment for services. Some organizations, such as the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, www. Frost explained that her practice had an integrative medicine clinic, which allowed her to refer patients to other family physicians with more expertise in that area. Those physicians would then assess a patient's needs and determine the appropriate treatment. Overall, however, the number of FPs trained in medical acupuncture is low. For the time being, it's likely that patients seeking acupuncture will be referred to another health care professional for care.


As such, it's important that family physicians become aware of which professionals provide high-quality acupuncture in their area to ensure patients receive the best care. Knowing who in the community provides quality acupuncture and what conditions they treat is necessary before referring," said Frost.

Study Details The Journal of Pain research updated a previous meta-analysis published by the same group of authors in Story Highlights A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Pain has concluded that acupuncture is effective for a number of chronic pain conditions. Results indicated that the effects of acupuncture were persistent over time, and that the benefits could not be explained away by the placebo effect.

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Family physicians may not feel comfortable prescribing these treatments without receiving guidance and training in the benefits, harms and indications. Trials were considered eligible for inclusion if they met the following criteria: patients experienced one of four chronic pain conditions nonspecific back or neck pain, shoulder pain, chronic headache or osteoarthritis ; duration of pain lasted at least four weeks for musculoskeletal disorders; at least one patient group in each trial received acupuncture and one group received no acupuncture or sham acupuncture; the primary endpoint was measured at least four weeks after the initial acupuncture treatment session; and patient allocation concealment was determined unambiguously to be adequate.

Results "The results confirm and strengthen previous key findings that acupuncture has a clinically relevant effect compared with no acupuncture control," the authors wrote.

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    What does acupuncture feel like?