FHT responds to NICE draft guideline on low back pain and sciatica

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is updating its 2009 guidance on the early management of low back pain and recently published a draft guideline for consultation…

Low back pain

In the draft guideline for ‘Low back pain and sciatica’, NICE makes recommendations for group exercise programmes (biomechanical, aerobic, mind–body or a combination of approaches) and manipulation, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques (for example, massage) for managing non-specific low back pain with or without sciatica, as part of multi-modal treatment package. Psychological therapy is also recommended, as part of a multi-modal treatment package.

However, regrettably, NICE states in the draft guideline that acupuncture should not be offered for the management of specific low back pain, with or without sciatica, even though this particular therapy was included in the 2009 guidance.

As a registered stakeholder, the FHT has submitted its response to NICE about the draft guideline. Amongst others, we have highlighted that:

  • a number of data errors were present in the analysis of the acupuncture studies included in the review;
  • a large and potentially significant acupuncture study was not included in the review;
  • sham acupuncture is not a ‘best comparator’ to prove whether acupuncture has treatment-specific effects, as sham acupuncture can produce similar physiological and therapeutic outcomes as acupuncture, including pain relief.

NICE will now review the comments it has received from FHT and other registered stakeholders. We will keep members informed of any progress. If you would like to learn more about the process followed by NICE when developing or updating its guidelines, visit www.nice.org.uk/about/what-we-do/our-programmes/nice-guidance/nice-guidelines/how-we-develop-nice-guidelines

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