Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

Even after tens of centuries of being used by countless numbers of people all over the world, no one still knows how acupuncture really works.

Current medical studies aim to unravel more information about what health issues acupuncture can help treat as well as how this therapy enables the body to heal itself.  These were the two goals of the clinical trials of the Stimulating Points to Investigate Needling Efficacy or SPINE led by scientists from the Group Health Center for Health Studies.

There were three various types of low back pain treatment that SPINE study used. These included three different types of acupuncture technique. One acupuncture therapy used was known as “simulated acupuncture” that stimulated points without breaking the skin. This type of acupuncture actually used toothpicks instead of needles pressed on certain acupuncture points with the tip of a toothpick.

The course f treatment involved treatments of two times a week for three weeks and then once a week for four weeks which amounted to a total of 8 treatments. The subjects periodically returned over the course of a year to be observed of their health status.  The outcomes from all 3 methods of activating the acupuncture points exceeded the results tallied in conventional acupuncture therapies alone. Since it was shown that the non-penetrating acupuncture therapy were as equally effective as the real acupuncture, the researchers wondered what made this result possible.

For their part, acupuncturists aren’t surprised at all of the outcomes. They know that the way of stimulating acupuncture points (regardless if heat, magnets, tapping, finger pressure or needles are used) is usually not as important as the actual stimulation of the points. The three ways of stimulating points also reinforces the notion that the frequent stimulation of the proper meridians (energy pathways) in the body always results in a positive response.

Do the test results mean that stimulating any point will produce the desired outcomes?

Acupuncturists will answer no to this question. Acupuncture treatment for low back pain or any other health issue is always done with the stimulation of the correct points. One example of this would be people who have had positive outcomes to treatments based on treatment of the points in the area of the problem. Low back pain may involve the treatment of points near and in the low back area.

Also other people with low back may find relief when the points away from the problem area are treated. These points may include those in the feet, hands, ankles and wrists.  The best way to know what points work best is by observing the patient’s immediate degree of improvement.  This implies, that when properly performed, acupuncture should bring about a considerable reduction of pain either after a day or two of treatment or immediately.  When the treatment does not lead to an immediate relief of pain, another different approach to using acupuncture should be performed.

Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

A lot of people not only in the United States but in the whole world as well consult with their doctor to complain about their low back pain. Work absences and other missed activities are mostly caused by people suffering from this type of pain. In the United States, almost all people will experience low back pain at least once in their lives.

Low back pain can have so many possible causes. It may come from diseases, structural deformities and trauma just to name a few. Diseases that can generate low back pain include osteoporosis, and ankylosing spondylosis. Structural conditions can include stenosis, herniated discs and spinal abnormalities that cause chronic problems and pain. Trauma may be due to pain from injuries and strains.

Signs and Symptoms

Back pain symptoms and signs often involve pain felt in the back’s lumbar area. A lot of times, the symptoms can be muscular and local pain. Sometimes, sufferers may feel pain radiating down the legs and others may complain about numbness, spasmodic pain, throbbing pain, dull pain and stabbing pain. Sometimes the pain can travel to the toes causing them to turn numb. Sometimes, it may be almost impossible to walk due to the back pain. If your back pain is accompanied by arthritis, the back pain can be affected by changes in the weather.

Treatment options

Fortunately, low back pain can have several possible treatments. A lot of the most commonly used modalities include muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs.  There are certain types of back pain that are caused by severe problems in the vertebrae that surgery can be the only recourse. One very effective and important treatment highly recommended by doctors and practitioners alike is traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine

Acupuncture is actually a component of traditional Chinese medicine and is very good for treating low back pain. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sees the body quite differently from Western medicine. According to TCM, the body has vital energy inside it that flows through channels of energy known as meridians. Qi is what the Chinese call this vital energy and whenever it becomes imbalanced, health conditions will arise. In the case of low back pain, the flow of blood and qi becomes stagnated and external pathogens such as cold and wind in the body are the ones that cause the pain. TCM deems that one of the meridians and major organ systems that is affected is the kidney meridian and organ system. Acupuncture is able to rebalance the body enabling qi to flow better and this helps the body to heal itself.

Acupuncture is powerful to treat both chronic and acute low back pain.  Many times with acute back pain, acupuncture will help with just a few treatments. Chronic back pain may take a little longer and people will have to come in for maintenance or preventative treatments. Acupuncture can help with low back pain conditions such as sciatic nerve pain, bulging disks, arthritis and stenosis.