Complementary Health Approaches

Frequently Asked Questions

26. What has research shown about complementary approaches for low-back pain?

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation can provide mild-to-moderate relief from low-back pain. It appears to be as effective as other therapies commonly used for chronic low-back pain, such as physical therapy, exercise, and standard medical care.


Data from several studies support the conclusion that acupuncture is a reasonable option to consider for chronic low-back pain. How acupuncture works to relieve pain is unclear. Current evidence suggests that many factors—like expectation and belief—that are unrelated to acupuncture needling may play important roles in the beneficial effects of acupuncture on pain.


Massage might provide short-term relief from low-back pain, but the evidence is not of high quality. Massage has not been shown to have long-term benefits on low-back pain.


Studies have shown that yoga can be helpful for low-back pain in the short term and may also be helpful over longer periods of time.