The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, especially when it comes to health care. Research presented at a CAM conference in Canada provides evidence that using a combination of therapies in conjunction, rather than just one individual therapy, may produce the best results in the treatment of low back pain.
In this small pilot study, 19 people suffering from subacute LBP were randomized into two groups: six patients who received "usual care," and 13 who received usual care along with "integrated care" from a team of experts in chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy and other disciplines.
Treatment was provided for 12 weeks, and was modified based on the patient's progress and the team's recommendations. At the start of the trial and at various points throughout the study, the researchers performed tests to assess changes in the patients' pain and ability to function.
The combination of integrated care and usual care reduced pain and improved function to a greater extent than usual care alone. In patients treated with the combination of therapies, pain scores decreased an average of 0.37 points per week, compared to just 0.14 points per week among usual care patients. Functional status, meanwhile, improved an average of 1.11 points per week in usual/integrated care patients, compared to 0.49 points per week in patients treated solely with usual care.
Whether utilized as stand-alone care or as an integrated approach, acupuncture is an effective solution to the low back pain dilemma.
Eisenberg DM, Post DE, Hrbek AL, et al. Testing a model of integrative care in an academic health center: results of a pilot study. Abstract #366. Presented at The North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Edmonton, Alberta, May 24, 2006.