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Acupuncture for Back Pain

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Back pain is the most common reason why people miss work. It is also widely ignored since a tablet of painkillers can temporarily cure the pain. But if left untreated, it can lead to bigger problems sooner rather than later.

Although older people indeed have higher chances of developing it, around 31 million Americans of all ages suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

Many patients with pain are looking for alternatives to pharmaceutical medications, like acupuncture. Since it has been shown during it’s 3,000 years of practice to relieve pain, acupuncture has gained the trust of many worldwide.

Causes of back pain

There are two classifications of back pain: acute back pain, and chronic back pain.

Acute back pain is only temporary that mainly goes away on its own with minimal care, and at times, without the need for medication. Minor injuries are its most common causes but occasionally, it escalates to chronic back pain.

Chronic back pain, on the other hand, could take months to recover. A lot of factors can cause chronic back pain including pre-existing medical conditions and major injuries or accidents. Surgery, or continuous treatment such as medication, and physical therapy might be needed to relieve the pain.

Symptoms of back pain

Infographic about back pain in the United States by Pain Pix

Photo from Flickr

Some symptoms of back pain are as follows:

  • Pain when you try to stretch or bend your back
  • Sharp pain when you stand up or sit down
  • Feeling a stabbed-like pain that goes down to your leg
  • A sense of burning or tingling-like pain at a specific area in your back
  • Muscle aches
  • Stiffness in your spinal cord

If your back pain causes or accompanies the following symptoms, it could be a more serious medical concern:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Throbbing pain in your stomach
  • Leg pain
  • Bladder or bowel-related problems
  • Numbness around different parts of your lower body
  • Back is swelling

How Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

acupuncture for backpain

Photo of Col. Richard Petri, Fort Bliss Physical Medicine and Integrative Health Services chief performing acupuncture by Pfc. Jennifer Kennemer, 16th MPAD

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of various health conditions. A safe way to heal back pain when administered by a licensed acupuncturist, it is one of the famous alternatives sought out by most people.

To improve the flow of your energy or qi (pronounced “chee”), thin needles of different sizes are inserted to your body’s specific acupuncture points or acupoints, thus stimulating the central nervous system. This releases serotonin and endorphins which are effective for pain relief.

An acupuncturist may choose these acupoints for back pain:

  • Lower back often called “the Sea of Vitality”
  • Hip bone, known as “the Womb and Vitals”
  • Stomach 36, or the “Sea of Energy”
  • Knee back often called “the Commanding Middle”
  • Foot
  • Hand

Other than back pain, stimulating the mentioned acupoints will also ease some body pains including but not limited to:

  • Joint disorder
  • Headache
  • Pain in the bones
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue

Benefits of acupuncture for back pain

acupuncture meridians

A Chinese medical illustration identifying different acupuncture points by Wellcome Collection

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

There are numerous theories that explain how acupuncture works for managing back pain. Since its popularity in Western countries, many scientists and doctors have conducted reviews to learn about its effectiveness.

In 2012, a study released by JAMA Internal Medicine shows that acupuncture is a “reasonable referral option” to treat chronic pain. It also concluded that the effects of acupuncture are more than a placebo effect.

In the study, patients with diverse pain conditions received real acupuncture treatment, sham acupuncture, and no acupuncture treatments respectively. For those who received real acupuncture, their chronic pain was improved by 50 percent.

The Takeaway

For thousands of years, those who suffer from chronic pain have found a remedy in acupuncture. With Western studies backing up the benefit of acupuncture for countless health issues, this traditional therapy is now being considered as a more mainstream, comprehensive therapy for patients.

The idea of getting acupuncture can be intimidating for first-timers, but your practitioner will walk you through any questions you have during your visit.

If you are experiencing back pain, or other types of pain, contact us today and we will address any questions you might have.

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