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Sore Back and Neck? Try Acupuncture for Pain Relief

A large study shows that the alternative treatment really works for back and neck pain.

What's your solution to constant back and neck pain? Is it “just dealing with it?” Well, tough guy, suffer no more—because treatment with acupuncture could give you relief, according to a new study.

Research has long hinted at the benefits of acupuncture for pain relief, but previous results were mixed … with many studies small or poorly run. This time, though, researchers dug into data from 29 high-quality studies that involved 18,000 patients with osteoarthritis, migraines, or chronic shoulder, back and neck pain.

And hold your eye-roll: In spite of its “alternative” status, acupuncture—a traditional Chinese practicethat involves placing needles in the skin—is widely popular, used by an estimated 3 million Americans each year.

How can you know if acupuncture is right for you? Let’s break it down:

  • Effectiveness: The latest study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that treatment with acupuncture works better than the usual methods for dealing with chronic pain, like over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. The pain relief was modest … but real. “It’s not some sort of strange healing ritual,” Andrew J. Vickers, Ph.D.,lead author of the study, told the New York Times.
  • Cost: Despite the evidence showing the benefits of treatment with acupuncture, not every health insurance company covers it. This means you may have to shell out $65 to $120 for each acupuncture session, with some conditions needing biweekly or monthly sessions until you feel better.

Your decision will depend upon both of these, but for many people who deal with chronic pain, the cost of even modest pain relief is worth it. (Go ahead, tough guy. Admit it.)

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