Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain
PainSci summary of Berman 2010?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★☆☆☆☆?1-star ratings are for negative examples, fatally flawed papers, junk science, suspected fraud. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
A bizarre and already infamous paper: bizarre because the authors clearly acknowledge that acupuncture is no better than a placebo, and bizarre because they conclude that it should be recommended, and most bizarre of all because it is published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Truly, one of the lowest moments in the history of that famous journal!
The best criticisms of the NEJM’s editorial choices here can both be found on Science-Based Medicine, by Drs. Crislip (NEJM and Acupuncture: Even the best can publish nonsense) and Novella (Acupuncture Pseudoscience in the New England Journal of Medicine). Dr. Crislip’s post is really quite funny.
This Journal feature begins with a case vignette that includes a therapeutic recommendation. A discussion of the clinical problem and the mechanism of benefit of this form of therapy follows. Major clinical studies, the clinical use of this therapy, and potential adverse effects are reviewed. Relevant formal guidelines, if they exist, are presented. The article ends with the authors' clinical recommendations.
- “Comparative Effectiveness of Tai Chi Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Trial,” an article in Annals of Internal Medicine, 2016.
- “A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia,” an article in New England Journal of Medicine, 2010.
These seven articles on PainScience.com cite Berman 2010 as a source:
- PS Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome — A guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and self-treatment and therapy option
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- PS Does Acupuncture Work for Pain? — A review of modern acupuncture evidence and myths, particularly with regards to treating low back pain and other common pain problems
- PS T’ai Chi Helps Fibromyalgia, but It’s Not “Alternative” Medicine — Despite a high profile boost from the New England Journal of Medicine, it’s still just gentle, elegant, and pleasant exercise
- PS Quackery Red Flags — Beware the 3 D's of quackery: Dubious, Dangerous and Distracting treatments for aches and pains (or anything else)
- PS Does Fascia Matter? — A detailed critical analysis of the clinical relevance of fascia science and fascia properties
- PS Placebo Power Hype — The placebo effect is fascinating, but its “power” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be