Back pain is the UK's leading cause of disability, affecting an estimated 1.1 million people* in the UK, and one of the main reasons for work-related sickness absence.
Many people will suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives. It can be caused by minor injuries such as muscle strains and sprains, pregnancy, stress or poor sleep. The good news for sufferers is that last year's announcement by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Research (NICE) recommending acupuncture for low back pain, means that patients with persistent pain can now receive acupuncture treatment from a British Acupuncture Council registered acupuncturist on the NHS.
By inserting fine needles into different parts of the body, acupuncture helps regulate the flow of Qi (the body's motivating energy) which when blocked can cause pain. By clearing energy blockages and encouraging energy to flow freely, acupuncture may provide long term pain relief as well as reduce inflammation and improve muscle function. In fact, NHS funded research has shown that acupuncture is one of the safest and most effective treatments for chronic low back pain**.
Sean Barkes acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member explains: 'Back pain is one of the most common complaints I see patients about and also something I've had great success in helping treat. With traditional acupuncture we look at the root cause of the condition as well as the symptoms in order to try and promote longer term health and wellbeing so it's important to recognise that each patient is different and that cases of back pain should be viewed in the context of the overall health of the individual.
'Traditional acupuncture has been used for over 2,000 years and British Acupuncture Council members have for many years been successfully treating patients for back pain. The NICE guidelines provide a stamp of approval for the positive work already being undertaken by acupuncturists in the UK.'
Dr Susan Allbright a GP and acupuncturist in Malvern says: 'The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that GPs offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain. With back pain such a common complaint, it's really encouraging for sufferers to understand that acupuncture can just as effectively be applied in treating and alleviating symptoms.'
It is very useful to have an alternative therapy such as acupuncture to offer patients suffering from back pain and we have see that those sufferers who have received acupuncture, have often improved. The NICE guidance only improves treatment for patients by providing them with more choice and therefore, the more schemes that are introduced in practices, the better for sufferers'.
It is vital that patients choose an acupuncturist who is registered with a professional body. British Acupuncture Council members have extensive training in acupuncture and bio medical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture in the UK. They are also bound by strict codes of ethics and safe practice and have the highest expertise in traditional acupuncture in the UK.
To find a practitioner in your area call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk.
*National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Spotlight: Acupuncture for back pain. www.ncchta.org/publicationspdfs/Spotlight/AcupunctureSMLFL.pdf
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