Researchers in Japan have found acupuncture to be superior to the injection of local anaesthetic for the treatment of lower back pain. Twenty-six patients were randomly allocated to receive either acupuncture or local anaesthetic injection at two to five of the most painful points on the lower back, once per week for four weeks. Both groups experienced pain relief, but acupuncture provided significantly more pain relief at all time points measured, including at two and four weeks after completion of treatment.
The authors of the study conclude that both injection and acupuncture relieved pain, but acupuncture was superior for the immediate and sustained effects, suggesting that it is a useful treatment for lower back pain. The difference in the effects may be attributable to differences in the mechanism of pain suppression.