Integrative Medicine Blog

New Guidelines Put Acupuncture 1st for Low Back Pain

Christopher Reilly L.Ac., MSA Saturday, March 11, 2017

The American College of Physicians (ACP) calls for acupuncture and massage as first line of defense for acute and subacute lower back pain.

In February 2017, the American College of Physicians (ACP) released its clinical guidelines for the non-invasive (non-surgical) management of low back pain for physicians. The ACP recommends that physicians first try non-drug therapies (avoiding pain killers) including acupuncture and massage for acute and subacute lower back pain. This is an official standard of practice guideline.

  • The ACP is THE authority for clinical practice guidelines for Internists

  • These guidelines are based on research and clinical evidence

  • For Acute and Subacute low back pain: acupuncture and massage are first-line therapies, to be tried before pain medication

  • For Chronic back pain: acupuncture, tai chi and yoga are first-line therapies to be tried, before pain medication

This means that physician internists, in order to be in compliance with their profession’s guidelines, will first recommend acupuncture before recommending pain killers or a visit to an Orthopedist. An exception to this would be if the pain and other symptoms clearly point to a need for emergency or surgical intervention, which are the minority of cases.

The ACP is the largest medical-specialty society in the world. It is the leading authority for evidence-based recommendations and standards of care for practicing Internists. Their recommendations are based on research and clinical evidence, and are recognized throughout the mainstream medical field.

This means that the first stop on the road to relief from acute and subacute back pain should be with your acupuncturist and massage therapist. For chronic back pain (back pain lasting more than 12 weeks), the ACP also recommends acupuncture as a first-line treatment before pain killers, as well as tai chi and yoga.

To view the guidelines, visit the ACP's website.