There is now a large body of scientific evidence that acupuncture is clinically useful for treating conditions such as chronic lower back pain, but is it cost effective?
Studies in the UK and the US have demonstrated the economic benefit of the use of acupuncture for lower back pain, and have consequently adjusted their therapeutic guidelines to recommend acupuncture as a first line treatment.
In September 2010 an economic study of acupuncture for chronic lower back pain in Australia was published by Access Economics, in a report titled Cost Effectiveness of Complementary Medicines. The study showed that acupuncture, alongside standard care such as medication, physical therapy, exercises and education, provided a significant reduction in direct health care costs (such as practitioner fees and pharmaceuticals), rating ‘cost effective’ according to World Health Organization definitions.
It is estimated that the cost savings double when ‘indirect costs’ are taken into consideration:
The study states, “Around 1.9 million Australians aged 18 years or over experience chronic non-specific lower back pain (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009). Most experience pain that lasts 6 months or more. Pain relief through effective complementary acupuncture would therefore clearly benefit a substantial number of Australians.”
Chronic back pain is something that I treat very often. In addition to acupuncture treatment, we investigate causative and aggravating factors, I educate on posture, ergonomics and the importance of stretching, and if appropriate, I’ll referrals to a physiotherapist to prescribe specific exercise prescriptions. So if you are experiencing chronic back pain, then call or book yourself in for an acupuncture appointment. Experience both the health benefits and cost benefits for yourself.
First published in December 2012 by Christine Guirguis