Hegu acupuncture may more beneficial than standard acupuncture for the treatment of chronic low back pain, according to a new study. Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into specific points along the body as a means to treat disease and relieve pain. Traditional practitioners claim that, by manipulating a system of meridians believed to course across the body, acupuncture can restore the balanced flow of qi, thus healing the body of malady. The term acupuncture also refers to the entire theory and practice of one of the major modalities of Chinese Medicine. There are many different varieties of the practice of acupuncture, both in East Asia and in the West. The most common forms available to Westerners are as follows: traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which usually combines acupuncture with Chinese herbs; classical acupuncture (also known as five-element acupuncture), which uses a different needling technique and relies on acupuncture independent of the use of herbs; Japanese acupuncture, which uses smaller needles than the other varieties; medical acupuncture, which refers to acupuncture practiced by a conventional medical doctor; auricular acupuncture, which treats the entire body through acupuncture points in the ears only; and electroacupuncture, which uses electrical currents attached to acupuncture needles. Hand point LI 4 is known as hegu. In a new study, researchers randomly assigned 187 patients with chronic lower back pain to one of three groups. Each group received 18 treatments of hegu acupuncture, standard acupuncture or standard care over the course of seven weeks. The severity of back pain and difficulties functioning were evaluated before treatment, at week eight and again 48 weeks after treatment began.