Acupuncture can definitely release back pain, an affliction that ranks among the most common problems that bring people to my office. Low back pain (lumbar) pain – can be acute or chronic. Acute back pain most of the time results from injury, although in many cases a commonplace movement can trigger low back pain. In most cases, it is due to strain on the muscles, and ligaments of the spine. Symptoms are usually felt in the lower back but sometimes may include shooting or stabbing pain that radiates into the buttock, hip or thigh. Patients experience a limited range of motion, trouble walking, sitting, or standing up straight. Back pain lasting more than three months is considered chronic.
A typical treatment follows this routine: a patient is asked about the pain location. They are also asked to move their torso in order to determine which movement causes pain and restriction. The location of painful points and movement restriction helps to determine the involved acupuncture channels. This information is used to select acupuncture meridian and acupuncture points to be treated.
A typical point selection involves points located on the top of the hand and foot on the opposite side of the body. Acupuncture points on the back of the knee, elbow joints and thigh may also be useful. In the initial stages of the treatment, needles are not inserted into the painful area of the back, because the use of local points in the initial stages of treatment is inefficient. Some additional modalities, such as cupping and moxibustion are used to enhance the effects of the treatment.
The needles are retained for approximately 30 minutes. During this time most patients fall asleep or stay in a pleasant trance-like state. Most of the patients are asked to come for treatment twice per week. In severe cases, treatment every day or every other day for a period of five days may be needed.
Herbal medicine is another powerful therapeutic modality for treating low back pain. The theory of herbal medicine recognizes that back pain is a symptom of a systemic imbalance that may involve an excess build-up of a pathogenic factor, as well as an underlying deficiency. The treatment principles that involve prescribing a therapeutic herbal formula extend far beyond giving patient substances that numb the pain or suppress chronic inflammation. The ingredients of the herbal prescription focus on balancing the body, that is releasing pathological excess and nourishing insufficiencies. Often patients report an increase in libido, normalization of the menstrual cycle, deeper sleep, and other positive changes. Patients suffering from chronic low back pain are especially encouraged to explore herbal medicine, because of the unparalleled benefits it can offer.
Feeling better after each acupuncture session is the sign of successful treatment. In some cases, a single acupuncture session is enough to relieve acute back pain, producing an instant and lasting cure, but generally, I advise my patients to undergo a whole therapeutic program that consists of eight acupuncture sessions that are administered at least twice a week. Progress after each session is carefully monitored. If symptoms do not change after six visits, I reassess my treatment plan or refer you out to another practitioner.
Recommending lifestyle changes is a big part of my practice. I believe that anyone suffering from chronic back pain should become competent in self-care. Every patient with chronic low back pain gets a unique set of home-based exercises, stress-reduction techniques to build up core muscles and prevent future bouts of pain.
Research supports the effectiveness of acupuncture for low back pain cupping therapy lower back pain treatment in both acute and chronic pain. Analysis from researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City found that acupuncture relieves chronic pain better than standard medical care. The studies compared acupuncture with the usual medical treatments available for different types of chronic pain. The investigators reviewed only the long-lasting studies (at least one month) and in which the effects of treatment were assessed at least a month after acupuncture treatment began. Clear evidence was found that acupuncture relieves chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. The report’s authors concluded that physicians and other health care providers should consider acupuncture as a valid treatment option for painful conditions.