Acupuncture Works!

Indeed it does:

Acupuncture works better than conventional treatments in reducing lower back pain, according to researchers in Germany.

But, here\’s the kicker:

But so does fake acupuncture, where the needles are inserted shallowly and in the wrong places.

In more detail:

The results suggest that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture act as powerful versions of the placebo effect, providing relief from symptoms as a result of the convictions that they engender in patients.

A team led by Michael Haake, of the University of Regensburg, recruited 1,162 patients aged between 18 and 86 who had suffered lower back pain for an average of eight years. They were divided into three equal groups, and treated either with genuine acupuncture, with the needles inserted in precisely specified places and to a predetermined depth, with fake acupuncture, or with antiinflammatory drugs, painkillers and physiotherapy.

Success was measured as a one-third improvement in pain, or a 12 per cent improvement in mobility.

After six months, almost half of those on true acupuncture (47.6 per cent) and 44.2 per cent of those on sham acupuncture had met these criteria, while only 27.4 per cent of those treated conventionally had. This suggests, say the authors in Archives of Internal Medicine, that acupuncture, however incompetently it may be applied, is about twice as effective as conventional therapy.

My take on it? If you stick pins in people who are complaining then eventually some of them will stop complaining.

3 comments on “Acupuncture Works!

  1. Why not have a competition between acupuncture and voodoo? Take a suitable subject (e.g. a politician, just in case these do actually work!). The voodoo practitioner will stick pins in a doll of the subject to cause pain, while the acupuncture practitioner sticks pins in the subject to relieve this pain, and we see who wins……..

  2. Alternatively, if you stick needles into people and they decide they don’t like needles and then fail to complete the course, then the treatment has failed but it won’t show in the research because “they didn’t finish the prescription”.
    Incidentally, I had acupuncture for asthma, and it worked. I did get better steadily but then reached a plateau without further improvement. I stopped and it didn’t get worse. Conclusion? It works for some but not for others, just like lots of conventional medicine.

  3. I had a dachshund who had disc surgery. He was in a lot of pain, muscles locked up. Tried acupuncture. Worked like magic. Go figure. I had no belief in it at all (in fact, was too embarrassed to tell my family we were doing it). And the dog wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for placebo effect. I’ve never been able to conclude anything from this…

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