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Acupuncture for Back Pain

Acupuncture as a Treatment for Back Pain

Understanding the Principles of Acupuncture

Acupuncture stems from traditional Chinese medicine and it consists of inserting fine needles into specific areas in the body. These points are located along energy “meridian” lines which aim to increase the flow of energy “Qi” and this helps to restore balance, heal and reduce pain.

Westernised Acupuncture Methods

There are also other more westernised ways of doing acupuncture, such as dry needling and trigger point needling, which means inserting needles into tight muscle areas to relieve tension.

How Acupuncture Works for Pain Relief

The Science Behind Acupuncture

Scientific studies on acupuncture indicate that inserting a needle through the skin has physiological effects in its own right and in fact, it is not as important whether it is an acupuncture point or not. The effects of inserting a needle create a release of happy hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, etc.) and this is what can lead to less pain.

Comparing Acupuncture to Placebo Treatments

Having a real acupuncture treatment gives very similar results to sham acupuncture (what we call placebo) but there is a big difference between receiving nothing and receiving something (even if placebo).

Acupuncture in Combination with Conventional Treatments

Achieving Better Results for Back Pain

In summary, acupuncture does provide short-term pain relief which can help with improvement in function. It is recommended that for even better results, acupuncture is combined with conventional treatments such as exercise and physiotherapy.


  • Liu, L., Skinner M., McDonough,S., Mabire L., Baxter GD (2015).
    Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 328196. Published online 2015 Mar 4. doi: 10.1155/2015/32819

  • Madsen M.V., Gotzsche, P.C., Hrobjartsson, A. (2009).
    Acupuncture treatment for pain: systematic review of randomized clinical trials with acupuncture, placebo, acupuncture, and no acupuncture groups. BMJ. 338:a3115

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.

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