Acupuncture Now Free On The NHS For Back Pain

For the first time ever, an alternative therapy is officially recognized by the NHS and will be offered free for back pain sufferers! Acupuncture has been known for decades to relieve lower back pain and now NICE, the official body which determines what drugs and therapies should be offered to patients, has come out and agreed. Clinical and public health director Peter Littlejohns says: “As with many interventions the underlying process of how acupuncture works is still not completely clear, but I think the evidence still shows that on balance patients do better.” A bit lukewarm maybe, but actions speak louder than his words and now any patient who has been suffering lower back pain persistently for at least six weeks will be offered acupuncture as part of their NHS treatment.

Interestingly, the NHS spends around £1.6bn a year treating lower back pain, including on tests and some treatments that have very little benefit.  It’s estimated that offering acupuncture will add only £77,000 to the total. Pleased as I am, I worry now that they will ignore the thousands of well-trained and experienced acupuncturists already in private practice in favour of training nurses and GPs in weekend acupuncture courses as has happened in the past. That would be a huge shame and rather miss the point (if you’ll pardon the pun). We’ll see. Source: The Times, May 27, 2009.

On a similar theme, and to much furore from pharmaceutical drug manufacturers I’m told, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) has approved Nelson’s Arnica 30c homeopathic tablets as a successful remedy for treating sprains and bruises. I don’t believe it – making real headway at long last! Source: WDDTY May 09.

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