Monday, September 24, 2007

Study: Sticking needles in your body wherever you want reduces back pain (part 2).

It's been a while on the old blog for me, but I couldn't pass this one up, especially considering I did a post on this very subject a while back. The AP reports that a new study shows that both "fake" and "real" acupuncture (is there really a difference?) helps with back pain. What makes me go freakin' nuts is that the headline in the Seattle Times reads: "Study: Acupuncture works for back pain"

What's amazing, is that they debunk their own story in the first paragraph:

CHICAGO — Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care, German researchers have found.

Almost half the patients treated with acupuncture needles felt relief that lasted months. In contrast, only about a quarter of the patients receiving medications and other Western medical treatments felt better.

Even fake acupuncture worked better than conventional care, leading researchers to wonder whether pain relief came from the body's reactions to any thin needle pricks or, possibly, the placebo effect.
I'm not sure what the reaction from trained acupuncturists is going to be, but you can, with diamond hard logic prove to them that any time or money spent studying acupuncture was a complete waste.

Chinese medicine holds that there are hundreds of points on the body that link to invisible pathways for the body's vital energy, or qi. The theory goes that stimulating the correct points [emphasis mine]with acupuncture needles can release blocked qi.
I have personally spoken with trained acupuncturists that suggested that there was such a thing as incorrect or bad acupuncture, where undesirable effects could occur. Basically, if true believers claim this as a victory for acupuncture, this would be the same as evidence based medicine claiming victory by having a study where medication-- any medication-- given for a particular ailment was effective.

Update: It appears the headline as it appeared in the Seattle Times has changed ever so slightly. My original link to the story above no longer works, and a search of the site now shows the headline as: "Study: Fake acupuncture helps ease low-back pain". This, in my opinion is a far more honest treatment of the subject matter. Methinks they had some nice folks point out the unintentional hilarity of the original title juxtaposed with the story?