Americans spend at least $37 billion annually on back pain. There are many patients with this painful condition who are unsatisfied with the traditional medical care. A lot if these people seek help from complementary and alternative care providers, including acupuncturists. “Back pain is one of the leading reasons for visits to licensed acupuncturists. Trained acupuncturists consider acupuncture an effective treatment for back pain.
Chronic Back Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. It has been estimated that up to 80% of the world’s population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, with the lower back as the most common location of pain. Though most occurrences of back pain last less than two weeks, research has shown that recurrence rates for low back pain can reach as high as 50% in the first few months following the first episode.
The use of acupuncture to treat back pain has increased dramatically in the past few decades. The results of a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain provide further proof that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for low-back pain, and that acupuncture can maintain positive outcomes for periods exceeding six months or longer without producing the negative side-effects that often accompany more traditional pain remedies such as anti-inflammatory steroids or medication.
The most common back pain conditions are Lumbar muscle strain or strain, ruptured disk, Discogenic back pain, Spinal stenosis, Lumbar spine arthritis, Spondylolistesis. These conditions can all be helped to a large degree or another with acupuncture. There are many different acupuncture patterns that contribute to the development of these conditions. As a acupuncturist in order to optimize the treatment we must determine the underlining dysfunction to the condition. Once we have determined the underlying oriental medicine pattern we can begin to treat the whole person in an addition to the symptoms.
Because of how complex and holistic the medical approach of Oriental medicine is we must look at the bodies overall function or lack of it. We use diagnosis systems to evaluate organ function or the lack of them to determine the correct treatment approach. This comprehensive diagnosis process is a important part of why Oriental medicine has been a very effective treatment modality for back pain. When we assess Kidney, Liver, Blood, vitality, Coldness and Heat levels in the body we can determine the correct and most effective treatment approach for back pain conditions.
My clinical opinion is that people and their conditions are a manifestation of the choices they have made over weeks, months, and sometimes years. Buy treating the individual as a whole not only the symptom, Oriental medicine can help dismantle the errors in choice that create Back pain. Choose well.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are very effective in treating back pain naturally. They can also be used together with traditional Western treatments to maximize your healing and recovery.
How back pain happens
There are many possible causes for back pain, including strained muscles or ligaments, often caused by improper lifting, sudden movements or traumatic injury. Other culprits can include arthritis, structural abnormalities of the spine, or the disks between the vertebrae bulging or rupturing and pressing on a nerve. Depending on the specific diagnosis, back pain is generally treated with medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and in some cases, surgery.
“Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain. Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain, and therefore in their quality of life.” – H. Endres, MD
A more natural approach
Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM view back pain another way. An acupuncturist will not only work to relieve your symptoms, but will also work to find and treat the underlying cause of your pain. In a study conducted at a Swedish hospital, doctors concluded that acupuncture provided long-term relief along with improvements in physical activity levels, quality of sleep and the diminished use of pain medication.
Acupuncture and TCM are based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. If Qi becomes stagnant, unbalanced or deficient, symptoms such as back pain, ache and inflammation can result. This can happen for any number of reasons, from injury and illness to stress or external invaders such as wind or dampness. Back pain can arise from disharmonies such as:
• Stagnation – type pain that is often linked to sudden, stabbing, severe pain and related to sprains, strains or trauma. It can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness and becomes worse with rest. If it occurs often in the same area(s) it may reflect an underlying deficiency.
• Cold, damp obstruction – type pain that is generally worse in the morning and exacerbated by cold or damp weather. This type of pain condition may be associated with numbness, swelling and a sense of “heaviness.” Heat improves this condition.
• Deficiency – type pain that is usually
a chronic condition that presents with
a “dull” pain and improves with rest.
Once your practitioner has determined the cause(s) of your back pain, he or she will create a specific treatment plan designed to address your concerns and boost your overall health and vitality. During acupuncture treatments, your practitioner will insert fine, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points along the meridian pathways in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi. He or she may also perform acupressure or other types of therapy, based on your unique issues and symptoms.
Your practitioner may also suggest lifestyle changes and self-care techniques, especially if you struggle with chronic pain. These may include:
• Improving your posture – Examine your posture in a mirror. Try to stand with your head up, shoulders back and pelvis in a neutral position. When sitting, try to sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your knees and hips level. Try to balance your weight evenly when walking and standing.
• Exercising – Keep your back and abdominal muscles strong with regular exercise. Yoga and Qi Gong are both gentle and effective. Consider adding aerobic exercise as well to improve your overall health and reduce stress.
• Managing stress – Stress can take a real toll on your health and contribute to muscle pain. Meditation or deep-breathing techniques can help you stay calm and relaxed. Massage is another great way to help relieve stress and loosen tense muscles.
More and more people are finding relief for both acute and chronic back pain through acupuncture and TCM. If you or someone you love is struggling with back pain, call today to find out how acupuncture can help.
Back pain. MayoClinic.com. Feb. 8, 2008. Link
Sollars, David W. L.Ac. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acupuncture and Acupressure. Alpha Books, 2000.
Stone, Al. L.Ac. Chinese Medicine for Back Pain. Acupuncture.Com. Link