“For people with chronic low back pain, acupuncture is clearly effective in providing considerable pain relief. The research showed that acupuncture provided true pain relief and that the benefit was not just due to the placebo effect.” Eric Manheimer, University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine
Back pain is a very common problem–one that will strike four out of five Americans at some time in their lives. That’s 80% of the population. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons people seek medical care. Unfortunately, back pain isn’t always easy to diagnose or relieve. Low back pain in particular can become a chronic or ongoing problem.
Acupuncture is very effective in treating back pain naturally. It is also effective when combined with traditional Western treatments in order to maximize your healing and recovery. Depending on the specific diagnosis, the Western medical treatment for back pain is 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.” researcher Heinz Endres, MD on WebMD.
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. However, the greatest cause of back pain and the one least addressed is with most therapies is chronic poor posture. At Acupuncture of Morris County, you will be given specific instructions and access to resources to learn how to correct this problem. Without proper posture, your back is like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
Practitioners of acupuncture 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 is based on the concept that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows through the body in channels called meridians. If Qi becomes restricted or blocked, then symptoms such as back pain, ache and inflammation can result. This can happen for any number of reasons from chronic poor posture to injury and illness or stress. According to Chinese medicine, back pain can arise from Qi 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.
Your practitioner may also suggest lifestyle changes and self-care techniques, especially if you struggle with chronic pain. These may include:
• Improving your posture – Although individual corrections are best, you can 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. Avoid soft chairs and sofas. Try to balance your weight evenly when walking and standing.
• Exercising – Keep your back and abdominal muscles strong with regular exercise. Yoga, Tai Chi 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 overall health and contribute to muscle pain. Meditation, deep-breathing techniques and massage can help to relieve stress.
More and more people are finding relief for both acute and chronic back pain through acupuncture. 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