Acupuncture is now widely recognized as a pretty effective method of dealing with back ache and has no side effects or associated pain.
It does not, however, necessarily involve using needles, or so researchers have found.
A Seattle team, from the Group Health Center looking into Health Studies, suggests that a similar effect can be had, without actually sticking needles into patients. Spokesperson Dr. Daniel Cherkin explains that getting the right acupuncture points seems to be the key.
The study looked at over six hundred individuals all who suffered chronically from pain in the lower back. This number, were then formed into four different groups, one of which was simply given prescription drugs along side physiotherapy.
The next two sections studied, received a standard course of acupuncture treatment over a seven week period and a treatment of acupuncture, specifically suited to the needs of each individual patient requirements.
Interestingly the final grouping were targeted at the correct points for acupuncture but treated with sterilized toothpicks instead. This was done by using a plastic guide tube usually used with needles; they did not pierce the skin in anyway.
The data collected showed that the best results were achieved by the use of acupuncture, with a sixty per cent improvement rate after two months.
A lot of these patients found that the effects were very long lasting, in some cases up to a full year of relief.
Significantly, there was no noted difference between the use of needles or toothpicks in treatment, which would suggest that it is more a case of where, rather than what is used in acupuncture.