Acupuncture worked for me to get rid of terrible back pain. I'm a fan of alternative treatments. I don't really care if it's placebo-- whatever works, right?
I want to keep everyone guessing, so I'm going to have to say that that's a fairly reasonable solution in this particular case. To find out why, read this article.
In a nutshell, chronic pain (and back pain in particular) is something that's not as well-understood as other conditions. Some research indicates that retraining your brain's pain response is as effective as surgery or more.
Unlike prescription pharmaceuticals, surgical procedures aren't required to pass clinical trials to demonstrate that they're more effective than placebos. (It's not clear that it would be possible or ethical to give your control group sham surgery.) And just because surgery is doing something real, it doesn't mean it's necessarily doing something useful or relevant to your condition. The article explains how it's possible for a surgical procedure to become popular and widespread without ever really being proven effective.
For chronic back pain -- between acupuncture and disc fusion surgery -- here's the score: Acupuncture may be pure placebo effect or perhaps there's something about poking the skin that affects the pain response -- but either way, it's not going to do you any real harm. Disc fusion surgery is also not really demonstrated to help, but it carries a real risk of doing serious, permanent damage. So if you have chronic back pain that resists treatment, and you've decided you're going to try either acupuncture or surgery, the acupuncture may be the better choice. Of course physical therapy is probably a better choice than either of those two.
That said, in general there are serious ethical concerns and dangers associated with promoting "alternative" treatments which are fundamentally bogus. For a simple explanation, see this cartoon about Homeopathy and my new Rational Moms post about placebos.