An alternative therapy appears to be more effective than conventional treatments in reducing lower back pain, according to a new study.
Researchers from Taiwan have found that acupressure could be an important treatment for a problem which affects more than one third of the UK adult population and can lead to severe disability.
Acupressure involves applying pressure with the thumbs and fingertips to the same points on the body which are stimulated by acupuncture, which uses needles.
The study, which is published online in the British Medical Journal, compared acupressure with physical therapy, which involves manipulation of the spine, use of heat and exercise to try to combat back pain.
A group of 129 patients with chronic lower back pain were split into two groups – 64 receiving six sessions of acupressure and 65 given conventional physical therapy.
The researchers assessed the patients immediately after their course of treatment had finished and again after six months.
The patients in the acupressure group were found to have less disability due to back pain than the other group.
The researchers found that acupressure resulted in an 89 per cent reduction in disability compared to physical therapy – and the benefits were still evident at six months.
They also saw improvements in leg pain, less interference from pain during work, and benefits in terms of time taken off work or school.
The researchers, who claim their results support the findings of previous studies, said: ‘Acupressure was effective in reducing low back pain in terms of pain scores, functional status and disability. The effect was not only seen in the short-term but lasted for six months.’