It's official - alternative medicine works. Acupuncture helps relieve lower back pain and should be recommended by doctors, says the UK's official body that decides on best healthcare options.
This is the first time that an alternative therapy will be offered on the UK's free National Health Service (NHS).
It is being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which determines the drugs and therapies that are available on the NHS. Its clinical and public health director Peter Littlejohns says: "As with many interventions the underlying process of how acupuncture works is still not completely clear, but I think the evidence still shows that on balance patients do better."
The NHS spends around UKlb1.6bn a year treating lower back pain, partly spent on tests and treatments that have little or no benefit. It's estimated that offering acupuncture will add only lb77,000 to the total.
Acupuncture will be offered to any patient who has suffered from persistent non-specific lower back pain for at least six weeks.
(Source: The Times, May 27, 2009).