Acupuncture and Neural Mechanism in the Management of Low Back Pain—An Update
University Postgraduate Education of Principles and Practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology GmbH, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Research Unit of Biomedical Engineering in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Research Unit for Complementary and Integrative Laser Medicine, and TCM Research Center Graz, Medical University of Graz, 8036 Graz, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Medicines 2018, 5(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5030063
Received: 6 June 2018 / Revised: 13 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 25 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Acupuncture – Basic Research and Clinical Application)
Within the last 10 years, the percentage of low back pain (LBP) prevalence increased by 18%. The management and high cost of LBP put a tremendous burden on the healthcare system. Many risk factors have been identified, such as lifestyle, trauma, degeneration, postural impairment, and occupational related factors; however, as high as 95% of the cases of LBP are non-specific. Currently, LBP is treated pharmacologically. Approximately 25 to 30% of the patients develop serious side effects, such as drowsiness and drug addiction. Spinal surgery often does not result in a massive improvement of pain relief. Therefore, complementary approaches are being integrated into the rehabilitation programs. These include chiropractic therapy, physiotherapy, massage, exercise, herbal medicine and acupuncture. Acupuncture for LBP is one of the most commonly used non-pharmacological pain-relieving techniques. This is due to its low adverse effects and cost-effectiveness. Currently, many randomized controlled trials and clinical research studies have produced promising results. In this article, the causes and incidence of LBP on global health care are reviewed. The importance of treatment by acupuncture is considered. The efforts to reveal the link between acupuncture points and anatomical features and the neurological mechanisms that lead to acupuncture-induced analgesic effect are reviewed.