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 Study "Shows" Acupuncture Cures Low Back Pain
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Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  00:46:35  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message
The headline in CBC health and Science News Reads:

quote:
Acupuncture helps relieve low back pain: study
Acupuncture has a "small but significant" benefit for people with low back pain and is a cost effective treatment, two studies suggest.



However the further down in the article it says
quote:
The researchers did not use a placebo group with sham acupuncture, where patients feel some sensation from a needle but it isn't actually inserted.

An earlier study this year found people with low back pain who received acupuncture reported better pain control than those who did not, but not compared with people who received sham acupuncture.



So this study proves absolutely nothing - in fact the small but statistically significant effect is probably nothing bu placebo.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson

Edited by - Ghost_Skeptic on 09/16/2006 07:24:33

filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  02:41:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
MacPherson and his colleagues said more research is needed to determine the best timing for acupuncture treatments, as well as if the procedure can help when low back pain recurs.

Although acupuncture is more expensive than standard care, a second paper accompanying MacPherson's study concluded the procedure appeared to be cost effective, when quantity and quality of life benefits are considered.

Who is this MacPherson fellow and what are his qualifications? Who is on his 'team' and what are their qualifications? Who is putting up the funding? And why are their 'results' being published in a news organ and not The Lanclet or the Journal of Medicine?

Sounds to me like he's blowin' smoke....




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  10:00:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Ghost_Skeptic

The headline in CBC health and Science News Reads:

quote:
Acupuncture helps relieve low back pain: study
Acupuncture has a "small but significant" benefit for people with low back pain and is a cost effective treatment, two studies suggest.



However the further down in the article it says
quote:
The researchers did not use a placebo group with sham acupuncture, where patients feel some sensation from a needle but it isn't actually inserted.

An earlier study this year found people with low back pain who received acupuncture reported better pain control than those who did not, but not compared with people who received sham acupuncture.



So this study proves absolutely nothing - in fact the small but statistically significant effect is probably nothing bu placebo.

Right! A medical study of this type without a control group gives them absolutely nothing to compare the results to. Useless…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  16:28:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Got him!

The esteemed Mr. MacPherson currently works at three clinics, all doing "complementary medicine." The University of York has him as a research fellow, in acupuncture, colonic hydration (enemas?), and so forth. Not sure exactly what sort of a university York is.

As stated: blowin' smoke, and maybe tryin' to drum up a little business for the clinics.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 09/16/2006 16:29:32
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  16:57:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
I'm going to bed now, but here is a list of articles probably from him. If I have time, I might take a look at it tomorrow.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  01:18:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

quote:
Originally posted by Ghost_Skeptic
So this study proves absolutely nothing - in fact the small but statistically significant effect is probably nothing bu placebo.

Right! A medical study of this type without a control group gives them absolutely nothing to compare the results to. Useless…


But they did have a "control group" - a group that did not recieve acupuncture. However in evaluating something as subjective and as prone to placebo effect as pain this type of control is meaningless.
Although doing a placebo for Acupuncture is not as easy as for a drug trial, it has been done by putting the needles in random locations.

Filthy has dug up the reason why they didn't use this sham acupunture on the control group - a negative result would hurt the researcher's business.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
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Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  00:38:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message
This study (or at least the abstract) was published in the BMJ which appears to be a publication of the British Medical Association.

I have sent this to CBC news

quote:
The headline is completely misleading since the improvement was "small but statistically significant" in a study that did not have a proper placebo group using sham acupuncture. This is especially important when examining as subjective as back pain.
Examining MacPherson's webpage indicates he is the prprietor of at least one acupuncture clinic - he definitely has a financial interest in the outcome of such a study. It is no wonder that the results were not compared to sham acupunture.

In short, this is a badly conducted study that proves absolutely nothing. Apparently CBC health and science news will report any alternative nonsense that sneaks into a medical journal without investigating who the "researchers" are. However, it is to the reporter's credit that they at least mentioned that studies have shown that sham acupuncture is just as effective as the "real" thing.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  00:55:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Without going to the actual research to look at the study and aee what "standard care" really was, they do claim:
quote:
People who were treated with acupuncture reported less pain after 24 months of follow-up compared with the standard care group, Hugh MacPherson of the University of York in England and his colleagues reported in Friday's issue of the British Medical Journal.

After 24 months, those who received acupuncture were also less likely to report worry about their back pain and current use of pain medication. They were also more likely to report no pain for the previous 12 months.



If true, it is reasonable to proclaim benefit despite no controls.

The other possibility here is the "standard care" made people worse and the acupuncture had no effect.

My guess is as other studies have shown, the benefits aren't repeatable or there was sloppy research here. So one needs to see the actual study to know how reliable the results are.

It may also be that the study reflects the uselessness of the standard care. That's a case many people have made in the past when claiming success with chiropractic care. Placebo is better than meds if they work equally well.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 09/18/2006 00:58:07
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  01:30:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

Without going to the actual research to look at the study and aee what "standard care" really was, they do claim:
quote:
People who were treated with acupuncture reported less pain after 24 months of follow-up compared with the standard care group, Hugh MacPherson of the University of York in England and his colleagues reported in Friday's issue of the British Medical Journal.

After 24 months, those who received acupuncture were also less likely to report worry about their back pain and current use of pain medication. They were also more likely to report no pain for the previous 12 months.



If true, it is reasonable to proclaim benefit despite no controls.

The other possibility here is the "standard care" made people worse and the acupuncture had no effect.

My guess is as other studies have shown, the benefits aren't repeatable or there was sloppy research here. So one needs to see the actual study to know how reliable the results are.

It may also be that the study reflects the uselessness of the standard care. That's a case many people have made in the past when claiming success with chiropractic care. Placebo is better than meds if they work equally well.

Yet another possibility, and I suggest this both humorously and seriously, is that those who underwent acupuncture for lower back pain reported recurring pain less often, simply because they dreaded being stuck with a bunch of needles again.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  02:21:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:

Yet another possibility, and I suggest this both humorously and seriously, is that those who underwent acupuncture for lower back pain reported recurring pain less often, simply because they dreaded being stuck with a bunch of needles again.


Indeed....

It all goes back (heh) to our poorly designed spines. I have read that everybody suffers lower back pain at one time or another, and some are permenently incapacatated by it. Any cure at all is, to the sufferer, worth trying. I suspect that much of the 'relief' brought about by acpuncture might be kept in the Wishful Dreaming file.

An entire industry has been built around lower back pain and wishful dreaming.

The only thing I've found that works involves chemestry, and we all know to which level of hell that road leads.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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