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Latest Research: Latest findings and research on what works in Alternative Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Treatment of Low Back Pain by Acupressure and Physical Therapy

Many people experience lower back pain at some time in their lives and traditional, Western medicine often uses physical therapy to treat low back pain. However, in traditional Chinese medicine acupressure uses specific points on the body to relieve pain. A recent study with 188 participants compared physical therapy and acupressure as treatments for low back pain. The results showed that the acupressure patients experienced less pain, reduced disability, and improved physical function than the physical therapy patients, not only at the time of treatment, but also six months following the treatment.

Both groups received six sessions over a period of one month. The routine physical therapy included pelvic manual traction, spinal manipulation, thermotherapy, infrared light therapy, electrical stimulation and exercise therapy. The acupressure treatments were all done by the same practitioner to ensure that patients had comparable experiences. Even though there are standard practices in acupressure, the experience and technique of the doctor as well as the doctor-patient relationship play a role in the effectiveness of acupressure treatment.

Interestingly, the results showed improvements in both groups; however, the acupressure group reported feeling less pain, sleeping better and had less measurable disability. Overall, the acupressure group felt less pain and had improved body functioning. The acupressure patients also experienced a startling 89% reduction in significant disability compared to the physical therapy patients. In addition, the acupressure patients reported greater "satisfaction with previous treatment" than the physical therapy patients. Some of the improvement in the acupressure patients may be related to the treatment process; acupressure may be a more pleasant and enjoyable than the manipulations common in physical therapy. The study presented some compelling information to support the use of acupressure to treat low back pain. As always, one important consideration is to select an experienced practitioner for acupressure treatment.

Wilburn O, Wilburn P, and Rockson, SG. A pilot, prospective evaluation of a novel alternative for maintenance therapy of breast cancer associated lymphedema. BMC Cancer, 2006, March 29: 6:84

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