Acupuncture Helped People With Back Pain Walk and Bend Better

A double-blinded randomized trial of electroacupuncture found it may result in a modest improvement in daily functioning for those with chronic back pain, though it provided little pain relief.

Electroacupuncture uses a small electric current passed between needles, a practice some believe provides additional pain relief compared with regular acupuncture. Researchers tested the procedure by dividing 121 people with chronic low back pain into two groups. The first received electroacupuncture, and the second a sham version of the procedure. None of the patients knew in advance which treatment they would get. The study, in JAMA Network Open, included 12 45-minute sessions over six weeks.

The scientists measured pain intensity using a pain scale developed by the National Institutes of Health, administering the questionnaire two weeks before and two weeks after the end of the treatment. There was no statistically significant difference in pain intensity between the treatment and the placebo groups at either time point. But the acupuncture group did have modest improvement in disability — they reported improvements in walking comfortably, standing for longer periods, bending or kneeling, and other daily activities.

“For back pain management, most techniques, even surgery, provide modest relief,” said the lead author, Dr. Jiang-Ti Kong, an anesthesiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “To manage back pain it’s best to use a multimodal approach, and electroacupuncture can provide a modest, but clinically significant reduction in disability.”

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Fort Bend ISD’s complex scheduling process weakens mental health support for students, officials say

Fort Bend ISD officials say using separate schedules for virtual and on-campus classes offer increased learning opportunities that allow online students to return to campus for band or football and other extracurricular classes.

However, maintaining the complicated system means campus counselors now spend all their time “hand scheduling” classes for the district’s more than 76,000 students. That leaves teachers as the sole mental health support for students, administrators said during a school board meeting Monday, Oct. 19.

When questioned as to what kind of mental health support was available for teachers facing an exponential increase in their work load and stress level, administrators recommended deep-breathing exercises, among other things.

“We have wellness moments that we use to open every meeting,” Assistant Superintendent Diana Sayavedra said. “We employ breathing exercises. We communicate the importance of self-wellness and finding the balance between work and home and our ‘Live Well’ (cell phone) app constantly sends reminders and updates to our employees about was they can do to reduce stress.”

One trustee spoke up to question the approach.


“Not to discount breathing, but it reminds me of what they told me when I was in labor, ‘Just breathe through it,’” trustee Kristin Tassin said. “And that doesn’t always cut it.”

Sayavedra said she and other administrators are also currently evaluating ways to possibly offload some teacher duties to other district staffers in the future.

Trustee Grayle James said she had received a lot of messages from teachers who were feeling overwhelmed and asked if a schedule change to allow teachers some extra down time was a possibility.

Superintendent Charles Dupre said he and his staff would consider it, adding he’d also heard from many teachers struggling with stress and anxiety.

“My consistent message to teachers is to ask the teachers to give themselves grace,” Dupre said. “Because when I talk to teachers and I get the largest outcry from teachers, it’s often teachers who’ve set a very high bar for themselves that they’re unwilling to lower.”

The decision to implement separate schedules for on-campus classes and virtual learning continued to be a source of concern for administrators and trustees during Monday’s meeting. The process requires campus counselors to evaluate each student’s schedule individually and resolve various conflicts between the dual scheduling system such as monitoring class sizes and making adjustments for students with overlapping classes.

The process has been so time-consuming campus counselors have no time for their regular mental health support duties, leaving teachers as the sole support for students. The scheduling process is expected to continue to drain resources from mental health support systems in the coming months as new schedules are drawn for the upcoming semester, according to Pilar Westbrook, who serves as Fort Bend ISD’s Executive Director of Social Emotional Learning and Comprehensive Health.

“We know that our counselors are our tier-one for mental health support, but we won’t acknowledge the fact that they have been inundated with

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