Acupuncture contra antiphlogistics in acute lumbago

Kittang G, Melvaer T, Baerheim A.

Kinn Legekontor, 6900 Floro.

BACKGROUND: Acute low back pain is one of the most frequent complaints presented in general practice. This study compares acupuncture and antiphlogistica in the treatment of acute low back pain in general practice. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Among 60 consecutively included patients with acute low back pain, 30 patients were randomized to enterzedd acupuncture treatment for two weeks, and 30 patients to entero-soluble naproxen 500 mg twice daily for ten days. Effects were observed over six months, and observed for a further 12 months with regard to relapse of low back pain and number of days on sickness leave. RESULTS: There were no differences in pain or stiffness (VAS, physical tests) at inclusion, nor in the reduction of pain or stiffness over a six month evaluation. However, patients receiving acupuncture used significantly less analgetic drugs during the first week after start of treatment than those receiving naproxen (2/28 versus 11/29, p < 0.01). Patients receiving acupuncture also reported fewer new episodes of low back pain (11/28 versus 30/29, p < 0.05) during the 6 + 12 month follow-up. Side effects were frequent in the naproxen group, especially gastro-enteric side effects (0/28 versus 15/29, p < 0.01). INTERPRETATION: Standardised acupuncture treatment seems to be safe and effective in the treatment of acute low back pain in general practice.

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