Acupuncture Benefits for Back Pain
It’s estimated that 80% of all people will suffer from back pain in their lifetime. Back pain is the third most common reason for a visit to the doctor, often causes people to miss work, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is also the #1 reason people give acupuncture a try. Acupuncture benefits for back pain are real and we’re excited for this opportunity to tell you all about them.
How Acupuncture Benefits Back Pain
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a practice that is over 2500 years old. Thin needles are placed at certain points on the body that are connected by pathways, also known as meridians, that create a flow of energy or Qi. When these points are stimulated they correct imbalances in Qi allowing the flow of energy to improve, also relieving pain and benefitting your health.
There are several Qi meridians (flow of energy) that your acupuncturist may target for back pain. Stimulating these areas prompts the central nervous system to release chemicals that relieve pain.
Key energy meridians for the lower back may include:
- Back of the knees
- Lower back
Key energy meridians for the thoracic (upper back) may include:
- Upper back
Acupuncture Needles Don’t Get Inserted Where It Hurts
If you are experiencing pain when you visit your acupuncturist, they will likely provide treatment through these key energy meridians at distal points further down the line from your actual pain. Just imagine your back pain as a hornets’ nest. You don’t want to poke the hornets’ nest when things are inflamed. Instead, your trained acupuncturist can insert acupuncture needles in the distal points of the meridians that flow through the areas of pain. Doing distal acupuncture pulls the inflammation out of the area of pain first. Then you can treat the source.
If you have pain in your low back, this is often caused by trauma or overuse of your back. Age and degeneration of the discs can also contribute to back pain and problems. Either of these scenarios causes a lack of blood flow or stagnation. Think of it this way…
If you have a car accident, there is an area of blockage (stagnation) on the highway (meridian) which causes everything to back up on the highway (inflammation). As a result, the further down the highway from the blockage there’s no traffic flowing (lack of blood flow). In your body, when your back is injured and stagnated in one area, your blood flow is impacted, inflammation builds up and you have pain. In order to clear up this traffic jam, we need to start pulling out the inflammation from further down the line to draw it out. Once the area has calmed down, and your pain has subsided, your acupuncturist will get to work on the blood flow and damage at the site of the “accident” or injury.
Acupuncture for Back Pain Due to Age & Lack of Exercise
Not every type of back pain is due to injury or trauma. Some people just wake in the morning with an achy back feeling stiff and discomfort getting up and moving around. Sitting for long periods of time can cause the same feeling. This is likely due to the body being deficient in nutrients or not getting enough blood flow through that area. This is more of a LACK of Blood Flow as opposed to a Blocked Blood Flow with trauma.
To treat back pain due to age and deficiency your acupuncturist will work directly with you to create a plan to focus and increase energy through exercise, heat, and nutritional components that add things such as iron, and blood building foods in your diet. With a little exercise and healthy nutrients, acupuncture starts sending blood flow to that area helping those tissues to recover and become healthy again.
What to Expect from your Acupuncture Results
When suffering from back pain, you’re going to want to know what to expect when it comes to seeing results. Many may wait a long period of time before coming in. Unfortunately, the longer you wait before seeking treatment for your back pain, the more stagnation, and blood flow problems building up, which means the longer it will take for your treatment to feel effective. A good rule of thumb is for every month you’ve experienced chronic back pain, you’ll need to continue a monthly acupuncture treatment for about that long. For serious chronic back pain, you should expect to need around 6 months of acupuncture treatment. Acute back pain can be impacted fairly quickly and your acupuncturist can help take the edge off the pain. Full recovery can take some time determined by your ability to reduce your need for pain medication and how often you wake from pain in your sleep.
Research and Acupuncture Benefits for Back Pain
Everyone loves a good research study. In a review of 22 acupuncture studies it was found that between two groups, one that received target specific acupuncture, and the control group who simply had needles placed in locations that weren’t associated with treatment targets, both groups reported relief!
This could mean that the control group is having an effect or it could be a placebo effect. Either way, acupuncture provided greater relief than no treatment at all. The group that received true, specialized acupuncture reported greater acupuncture benefits for back pain.
Acupuncture Benefits for Your Back Pain
The American Pain Society, as well as The American College of Physicians, encourage doctors to recommend acupuncture as an alternative therapy for those coping with back pain. Acupuncture is a great companion modality to other therapies as well as on its own. If other treatments aren’t relieving your back pain Common Ground Wellness is happy to discuss acupuncture treatment as an option.