[social_share style=”bar” align=”horizontal” heading_align=”inline” facebook=”1″ twitter=”1″ google_plus=”1″ linkedin=”1″ pinterest=”1″ /]back painNew report shows acupuncture to be the most effective effective complementary therapy for musculoskeletal problems.

Medical research charity Arthritis Research UK published it’s evidence-based report into practitioner provided complementary therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and back pain.  Whilst no research was found amongst these therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, acupuncture was the only therapy found to be effective for all the other problems.  In each category acupuncture was amongst the most effective therapies.  I was pleased to read that Tai Chi had some good evidence for effectiveness.

Lack of scientific evidence.

Sadly the overall report is somewhat negative with the take home message that there is a lack of scientific evidence for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for these common painful conditions.  But they admit for some therapies no research has been done.  It has to be remembered that a lack of evidence is no evidence when no research has been done.

The therapies that were shown to be the most effective are:• Acupuncture for osteoarthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia
• Massage for fibromyalgia and low back pain
• Tai chi for osteoarthritis
• Yoga for back pain – See more at: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/news/press-releases/2013/march/january/new-report-on-complementary-therapies-for-arthritis-reveals-lack-of-scientific-evidence.aspx#sthash.NxNPY9wF.dpuf

The most effective therapies.

The therapies found to be most effective were:

• Acupuncture for osteoarthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia

• Massage for fibromyalgia and low back pain

• Tai chi for osteoarthritis

• Yoga for back pain

There was little evidence for common therapies such as magnetic therapy and copper bangles.

 The report in more detail:

Twenty-five therapies were considered in the report. Each therapy was scored according to their effectiveness on a scale of one (little or no evidence that it was effective) to five (good evidence that it was effective), based on published data from clinical trials. Effectiveness was measured in terms of improvements in pain, disability or quality of life. In addition the safety of each therapy was graded either green, amber or red.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Very little research has been conducted for therapies claiming to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The report examined 24 trials across nine therapies. Only a little evidence suggested biofeedback, relaxation therapy and tai chi are effective, each scoring 2. The other six therapies scored 1.

Osteoarthritis

Fourteen different therapies were the subject of 53 trials, with 12 therapies scoring 1or 2. Evidence was much stronger in support of tai chi and acupuncture, which scored 4 and 5 respectively. All therapies scored green for safety except chiropractic, which has an amber rating.

Fibromyalgia

Fifty trials examined 17 different therapies and 13 of the therapies scored either 1 or 2. There was some promising evidence to suggest that tai chi and relaxation therapy may be effective, both scoring 3. Acupuncture and massage were rated even higher, with scores of 4 and 5, respectively.

Low back pain

Low back pain was the most studied of the four conditions, with 75 trials across 14 therapies. Eight therapies scored only 1 or 2. Evidence for Alexander technique, osteopathy and relaxation was promising, scoring 3. There was also good evidence in support of acupuncture and yoga, which scored 4 and 5.  Remember that 5 is the highest rating they gave.

Safety warnings

Two therapies, chiropractic and osteopathy were given amber safety ratings. This was not because of an increased risk of serious side-effects but because more minor side-effects were more common.

Researcher’s comment.

Dr Gareth Jones, from the University of Aberdeen, who was the main author of the report, said: “Approximately one quarter of the UK population uses complementary or alternative therapies in one form or another, and around one in eight will consult a practitioner in any year. Evidence also suggests that the use of complementary or alternative therapies is higher among people with pain or musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis.”

“The report aims to help people with musculoskeletal conditions and healthcare professionals by providing clear, scientific evidence about the safety and effectiveness of complementary therapies.”

Read the full report.

To read the full report from Arthritis Research UK click here.

 

A new report into the effectiveness of the complementary therapies that are commonly used for treating arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions has found there is a lack of scientific evidence to support their use. – See more at: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/news/press-releases/2013/march/january/new-report-on-complementary-therapies-for-arthritis-reveals-lack-of-scientific-evidence.aspx#sthash.NxNPY9wF.dpuf
A new report into the effectiveness of the complementary therapies that are commonly used for treating arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions has found there is a lack of scientific evidence to support their use. – See more at: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/news/press-releases/2013/march/january/new-report-on-complementary-therapies-for-arthritis-reveals-lack-of-scientific-evidence.aspx#sthash.NxNPY9wF.dpuf

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