Chronic Back Pain? Pregnant?
“Acupuncture can be incredible for back pain relief. It is expected that the patient get up after the first treatment feeling significantly better. Acute back injuries often only take 1 to 4 treatments to alleviate the pain. The goal when treating chronic pain is to strengthen and nourish the vulnerable area so that the severity and frequency of the pain diminishes and then fades.” -Melani Bolyai, L.Ac.
Acupuncture provides a natural, safe alternative or complement to pain medications, physical therapy, and sometimes injections and surgery. The National Institutes of Health recognizes that acupuncture has proven beneficial for low back pain. Chinese medicine views back pain as a symptom of an underlying weakness in the “mansion of the Kidneys”. It seeks to strengthen the body as a whole and relieve the body of deficiencies which cause the pain by increasing blood flow and invigorating the qi, the body’s energy or life force, to remove blockages that cause stagnation.
Acupuncture for lower back pain can always be complemented by the use of Traditional Chinese Herbal therapies. An acupuncturist and herbalist can design remedies for you specific to your needs to target symptoms, as well as provide natural alternatives for building strength in the periods of time between visits. For back pain, herbs can provide pain relief, stimulate blood flow, and can be used as relaxants and topical treatments for acute pain.
Four out of five people suffer from back pain, especially in the lower back, at some point in their lives. Fifty percent of sufferers experience recurring pain, which can affect daily activities, the ability to sleep and to focus. Patients experiencing pain often seek treatment for the following:
- Tenderness, pain, and stiffness in the lower back
- Pain that radiates into the buttocks or legs
- Difficulty standing erect or standing in one position for a long time
- Discomfort while sitting
- Weakness and leg fatigue while walking
Causes of back pain can vary, and it is always important to discuss with any health care provider. A majority of sufferers experience pain from heavy lifting, twisting or bending. However, some pain can be a symptom of a more serious condition, including rheumatoid arthritis, an infection, or cyst.
Research shows that acupuncture is effective in releasing neuro-chemicals that contribute to the body’s natural pain- and inflammation-reducing process. MRI studies have shown the brain “quieting down” in response to acupuncture treatments on patients with pain. Patients often seek acupuncture as a way to reduce or eliminate the use of analgesics such as aspirin or acetaminophen medications, Percoset or Vicadin. In addition to the risk of dependence with the use of some of these drugs, it has been shown that some, like aspirin and ibuprofen and others, add to the risk of liver, kidney and digestive problems, weak bones and even heart failure.
In a study on patients with chronic lower back pain at Lund University Hospital in Sweden, patients in the acupuncture group greatly decreased the intake of analgesics in comparison to those in the placebo group, as well as reported less pain, better sleep, and higher activity levels. Positive results continued to increase with continued treatments, and all patients viewed acupuncture as more effective to their pain relief as a whole.
While other studies also support the effectiveness of acupuncture on back pain, one study at the University of York shows acupuncture treatments over time as more cost-effective. After studying 241 patients and seeing the beneficial results of acupuncture, they took into account the overall improved quality and quantity of life for those receiving treatment, and concluded that acupuncture’s worth to anyone seeking relief is undeniable both in the short as well as long run.