Acupuncture for Back Pain: Now Recommended by the ACP

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek care from their primary care physicians; it is also one of the most common conditions we treat as acupuncturists.

The American College of Physicians recently published guidelines on the clinical recommendations for the treatment of low back pain — and acupuncture is included in their recommendations. The committee based these recommendations on a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials and systematic reviews published through April 2015 on both non-pharmacologic treatments and noninvasive pharmacologic treatments for low back pain.

Recommendation 1 states: “Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation.”

Recommendation 2: “For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation.”

It is only in Recommendation 3 that opioids would be considered for chronic low back pain.

Read the Wall Street Journal’s review here, and read the study write-up here.

[written by Kennedy]