Acupuncture Therapy: An Effective Intervention for Acute Low Back Pain

Review Article

Austin Emerg Med. 2022; 8(1): 1077.

Acupuncture Therapy: An Effective Intervention for Acute Low Back Pain

Sun Z¹, Bi Y² and Ji C²*

¹Shaanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Xianyang, China

²Shaanxi Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Xi’an, China

*Corresponding author: Changchun Ji, Department of Acupuncture, Shaanxi Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No. 4 Xihua Gate, Xi’an, Shaanxi, 710003, China

Received: February 14, 2022; Accepted: March 09, 2022; Published: March 16, 2022


Acute low back pain is a relatively common case in the emergency department, and the currently used therapeutic measures can hardly meet the need for immediate relief of patients’ low back pain and functional impairment. This study examines the scientific validity and feasibility of acupuncture intervention in the emergency department for this condition and attempts to provide new treatment ideas that can enrich the treatment of acute low back pain. The text demonstrates the scientificity of acupuncture intervention in acute low back pain from three aspects, including the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy in treating the disease and clinical experimental studies and basic research; it also shows the specific acupuncture points and operation steps required for acupuncture therapy in the form of diagrams, which makes acupuncture therapy operable in clinical use. The use of acupuncture therapy should be attempted in future emergency clinical practice with the aim of promoting its use in the treatment of acute conditions.

Keywords: Acute low back pain; Acupuncture; First aid technology; Prompt treatment


Acute low back pain (ALBP) is one of the more common acute pains in the emergency department, which refers to simple acute lumbar sprain or non-specific acute low back pain excluding lumbar fracture, tumor and spinal slip. The cause is mainly mechanical external force damage, such as lifting heavy objects, twisting the lumbar region, or prolonged sitting, operating vibrating tools, etc. ALBP has become the leading cause of activity limitation and work absenteeism worldwide, causing a huge economic burden to society and will become the leading cause of disability in the global population [1].

Due to the few studies on the molecular biology of ALBP, there is a lack of targeted drug interventions, mainly based on physical therapy, exercise therapy, and anti-inflammatory and analgesic treatment [2]. Although it can temporarily alleviate the symptoms, it cannot meet the demand for rapid relief of pain and discomfort of patients. In contrast, acupuncture therapy in Chinese medicine for analgesia has been widely proven [3-5], especially in the treatment of ALBP as a safe and efficient intervention, and is gradually accepted by the majority of patient groups [6-9], and 20.0% of the guidelines in the last 20 years in Europe and the United States for low back pain recommend the application of acupuncture therapy [10].

Study on the Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapy Intervention for ALBP

In the management of ALBP, pain and low back dysfunction are the predominant symptoms, which are mostly treated symptomatically with opioids for analgesia; however, opioids have short-term side effects of constipation, nausea and increased risk of fracture [11]. In the clinical practice guidelines for acupuncture in low back pain, acupuncture is recommended as a high-quality intervention for the treatment of ALBP [12]. In terms of evidence provided by evidencebased medicine, Wu B et al. [13] found better safety and efficacy of acupuncture interventions for ALBP based on evidence provided by reticulated meta, especially manual acupuncture deserves clinical promotion, while Su X et al. [14] found that acupuncture was effective in improving VAS scores and ODI scores in patients with ALBP through meta-analysis, thus positively improving patients’ low back pain and functional impairment symptoms. We will demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy intervention in ALBP in terms of clinical experimental studies and cellular molecular mechanisms.

Clinical Experimental Study of Acupuncture Therapy Intervention for ALBP

In terms of clinical experimental studies, the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of ALBP has also been verified. For example, Su JT et al. [15] found that carpal and ankle needling could provide immediate analgesia in comparison to sham acupuncture and concluded that carpal and ankle needling analgesia is mainly achieved through neuroreflex modulation. In addition, the floating needles in acupuncture therapy have also been studied and confirmed to have better efficacy. For example, Li NG et al. [16] found that floating needles can efficiently treat ALBP and achieved satisfactory clinical efficacy, while a study further compared the difference in the effect of floating needles and general analgesics on ALBP and concluded that the efficacy of floating needle therapy intervention in this disease is due to analgesic drugs [17], in addition to the exploration of the timing of the immediate analgesic effect of floating needles [18], which concluded that floating needle therapy has a positive The immediate analgesic effect of floating needle therapy on ALBP was found to be more rapid and the analgesic effect was stronger and more sustained compared with traditional acupuncture. In addition, the Chinese Journal of Emergency Medicine has more clinical research literature reporting cases of efficient intervention of acupuncture therapy in ALBP [19-22], which also confirms our view. It is evident that acupuncture has made greater progress in clinical studies, and the efficacy has been verified.

Study on the Mechanism of Acupuncture Therapy Intervention in ALBP

Regarding the research on the evidence of molecular mechanism of acupuncture intervention for ALBP taking effect, it is believed that acupuncture can reduce serum inflammatory cytokine levels and inhibit early inflammatory response, thus effectively relieving ALBP lumbar pain symptoms [23-25]. In contrast, Li G [26] found that acupuncture of lumbar pain points combined with McKenzie therapy was clinically effective in patients with ALBP and significantly relieved their pain symptoms, which may be related to the reduction of serum osteoprotegerin, DKK-1 and sclerostin levels.

In addition, in the study of brain mechanism of acupuncture for ALBP, Liu ZP et al. [27] observed the alteration of intracerebral pain matrix of ALBP by acupuncture supported by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique of brain and concluded that acupuncture can cause S1 and S2 signal alteration in brain, while intracerebral S1 and S2 can process pain sensory components, so acupuncture can play a role in the treatment of ALBP. In conclusion, acupuncture can produce certain effects on the peripheral and central parts of the body making it possible to rapidly relieve low back pain in ALBP patients.

Common Acupuncture Points and Body Surface Positioning for ALBP Emergency Department

According to the needs of emergency clinical practice, acupuncture interventions for ALBP should try to use acupoints that are simple to obtain, safe and have stable efficacy, such as Wrist ankle acupuncture (zone 5 and zone 6), Dong’s special points (Erjiao Ming, Zhongbai and Haibai), Houxi (SI 3) and Yanglao (SI 6) points, the most painful point of the lumbar region and the point of lumbar pain. In addition, combined with the operational requirements, they can meet the need for efficient emergency treatment of ALBP and achieve satisfactory results. The relevant acupoints positioning and operation are shown in Table 1.

Citation: Sun Z, Bi Y and Ji C. Acupuncture Therapy: An Effective Intervention for Acute Low Back Pain. Austin Emerg Med. 2022; 8(1): 1077.