Success of Acupuncture Treatment for Back Pain Determined by Psychological Factors

Acupuncture Treatment for Back Pain - Acupoint Med - NZRecently, a study was published in The Journal of Clinical Pain, which suggested that the patients who feel positive about their back pain and are in control of their symptoms experience less back-pain disability when receiving acupuncture.

Dr. Felicity Bishop, the study author says, “The analysis showed that psychological factors were consistently associated with back-related disability. People who started out with very low expectations of acupuncture – who thought it probably would not help them – were more likely to report less benefit as treatment went on.”

Established as a complementary therapy, acupuncture is basically used for treating different kinds of health related problems. The WHO (World Health Organization) has stated that it is very effective in treating 28 conditions including lower back pain, depression, allergic rhinitis, essential hypertension, headache and stroke.

Evidence even suggests that acupuncture is the most standard treatment for back pain. It is also beneficial in treating many other diseases, conditions and symptoms, although WHO believes more proof is required.

However, research that was made earlier found out that the factors other than insertion of the needles into certain areas of skin play a big role in how effective the acupuncture treatment can be. These factors include the belief of the patient in therapy as well as the relation between the acupuncturist and the patient.

Processing of the various emotions in relation to acupuncture treatment influences the outcomes. Dr. Bishop in fact explains that when the patients are able to see their pain in a positive light, they start experiencing less back pain related disability.

“In particular, they experienced less disability over the course of treatment when they came to see their back pain as more controllable, when they felt they had better understanding of their back pain, when they felt better able to cope with it, were less emotional about it, and when they felt their back pain was going to have less of an impact on their lives.”

Dr. Stephen Simpson, research director at Arthritis Research UK, says that the study gives emphasis to how a placebo effect controls pain. He says, “The process whereby the brain’s processing of different emotions in relation to their treatment can influence outcome is a really important area for research.”

Authors of this study suggest that the future research must test whether combining acupuncture with psychological interventions targeting self-perceptions and illness can improve the outcomes of patient.

Dr. Simpson concludes by saying, “Factors such as the relationship between practitioner and the patient can inform this and we should be able to understand the biological pathways by which this happens. This understanding could lead in the future to better targeting of acupuncture and related therapies in order to maximize patient benefit.”

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