According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Pain, patients receiving acupuncture treatment for back pain are more likely to experience less back-related disability if they have a positive mindset.
Of the 485 people involved in the study, those who viewed their pain as something they could control and manage with acupuncture saw significant improvement in their condition.
Study author, Dr Felicity Bishop explains:
“The analysis showed that psychological factors were consistently associated with back-related disability.
“People who started out with very low expectations of acupuncture – who thought it probably would not help them – were more likely to report less benefit as treatment went on.”
Acupuncture is a popular form of complementary therapy commonly used to treat a wide range of health problems.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) supports its effectiveness in helping to treat a total of 28 conditions, including back pain, depression, high blood pressure and migraine headaches.
Research into the therapy has shown that its success can be linked to a variety of factors – not just the insertion of fine needles into specific meridian points.
In particular, the patient’s belief in the therapy and the relationship between the patient and the acupuncturist can be significant in how well they respond to the treatment.
The prevalence of psychological variables in the latest study reinforces this current knowledge.
Dr Bishops adds: “[Patients] experienced less disability over the course of treatment when they came to see their back pain as more controllable; when they felt they had better understanding of their back pain, when they felt better able to cope with it, were less emotional about it, and when they felt their back pain was going to have less of an impact on their lives.”
Researchers are now looking to explore the effectiveness of integrating acupuncture with psychological interventions targeting self-perceptions and illness.