New study: Acupuncture > drugs for back pain
Things to note:
There's no breakdown on effectiveness by the cause of back pain.
'Sham acupuncture' (needles put in at random with no attention paid to meridians or any 'chi' theories of any sort) appears to work nearly as well as 'real' acupuncture (also better than conventional therapy). This research therefore should not be cited as a demonstration of TCM theories of vital energy meridians being valid. I think it does show pretty well that either distracting your pain receptors with other low level pain works pretty well (the old 'pinch yourself to ignore a headache' remedy), or that you can trick people out of psychosomatic pain. Probably both.
The effect suggest that randomly sticking needles in people is better for back-pain relief than modern conventional therapies.
If anything, IMHO this is a loss for current conventional therapies than a win for 'alternative' medicine.
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The 'conventional' therapies suggested have all been proven inferior to other 'conventional' therapies incidentally (cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise therapy are the gold standards for chronic back pain), so it's not a win for alternative therapies at all.
It also seems to be a study of chronic low back pain of non-specific aetiology, which is one of the most psychologically fraught conditions there is.
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