Acupuncture, which involves the shallow insertion of needles into strategic points on the body, remains an ongoing source of scientific study. Some research suggests that it can be highly effective at treating pain, while other studies have shown that “real” acupuncture is no more effective than fake acupuncture. According to a study published in the The Clinical Journal of Pain, your attitude toward acupuncture could affect the outcome of acupuncture treatment.
Psychological Factors and Acupuncture Outcomes
Researchers recruited 485 participants, each with lower back pain and each receiving acupuncture treatment from a total of 83 providers. Participants answered questionnaires prior to treatment and then two weeks, three months, and six months later. The questionnaires gathered demographic information and details about the participants’ back pain. The surveys also posed questions designed to elicit information about various models of back pain.
The research team found that psychological factors played a key role in acupuncture and back pain outcomes. Participants who believed acupuncture wouldn’t work were less likely to report good results with acupuncture. Those who had a more positive view of acupuncture had better outcomes.
Attitudes about acupuncture weren’t the only factor in acupuncture outcomes, though. The team found that, overall, psychological factors accounted for two-thirds of the difference in outcomes among participants. Those who saw their back pain as controllable reported less back pain, as did those who felt they had a strong understanding of back pain. Those who experienced fewer emotions related to their back pain, as well as those who did not believe back pain would significantly impact their lives, also reported better results. The quality of the relationship between the practitioner and participant was also a major predictor of acupuncture’s success.
The study’s authors point to the value of future research exploring the benefits of mixing acupuncture with psychological interventions.
- Acupuncture back pain success determined by psychological factors. (2015, February 16). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289476.php
- Bauer, B. A., MD. (2012, June 23). Acupuncture for back pain? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/expert-answers/acupuncture-for-back-pain/faq-20058329
- How acupuncture can relieve pain and improve sleep, digestion, and emotional well-being. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cim.ucsd.edu/clinical-care/acupuncture.shtml
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