A lot of people call and ask me ask me about how well acupuncture is in addressing back injury and lower back pain. Most of them, however, have issues about sticking a needle into a specific area of their body. For them, this treatment seems to be painful and since they are seeking for a way to help relieve their lower back pain, getting acupuncture treatment may seem counterintuitive. I carefully explain to them that acupuncture simply is an effective, safe and relatively painless treatment that works best when it is used for the alleviation of pain and longstanding conditions. Along with many other acupuncturists, I have found it especially useful in the management and/or treatment of back pain, back spasms, and back aches following a lower back injury.
First of All, What is Acupuncture?
An important component of TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine), acupuncture is thought of in Western cultures as simply a treatment that uses needles to stop pain and resolve a host of other health issues. Acupuncture is used to relax the mind, maintain and restore balance in the body, help the person maintain his/her health, and even make the person more beautiful, among many other benefits. It has many forms in TCM. Chinese herbal medicine, Yin and Yang breathing techniques, and cupping therapy are some of the other healing modalities of Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture has been around for more than 4,000 years. It is a treatment the Chinese use for several purposes, not just for pain alleviation even before the discovery of steel. This meant a couple of things for us – certain acupuncture techniques were used to relieve pain before the invention of the needle. So, very thin bamboo shoots were used instead. The other thing was that needling techniques were already being used by the Chinese long before they knew what laid beneath the ‘needle’ they were inserting in the body.
The traditional style of acupuncture is founded on the Chinese medicine concept of acupoints or meridian points of which a couple of thousand are scattered throughout the human body. Practitioners think that underneath these acupoints run energy channels called meridians. There are 12 main meridians in the body and each of them is associated with a specific internal organ: the Heart, Spleen, Lung, Large Intestine, Liver, Kidney, etc. These meridians form a network that traverses all over the body. In acupuncture and Chinese medicine for the treatment of pain in Bellingham, the traditional belief is that by drawing into these meridians by means of a ‘needle’, anything from back spasms, buttock pain, back aches, and acute to chronic pain can be alleviated. More often than not, the needle is not stuck anywhere near the site where the pain is actually felt.
In the case of back injury and lower back, acupuncture has been proven to effectively provide relief for back spasms, back aches and both acute and chronic pain. Lower back pain acupuncture treatment can help reduce chronic pain and back spasms, besides help in reducing the long term modifications in how the brain processes pain.
Over the past few years, Western culture has accepted acupuncture for the relief of almost any type of pain as well as for pregnancy-related issues such as back pain associated with pregnancy. With additional studies that delve into the mechanisms of the actual needling process, a westernized type of acupuncture treatment called Dry Needling has been created which is now quite popular and widely used in the United States. The Dry Needling technique works by giving immediate relief to lower back pain, buttock pain, back spasms, and back aches resulting from muscle spasm after a back injury.
The back muscles tend to spasm following a back injury. This is natural defense mechanism of the body to protect the site of the injury. This also results in a lot of people experiencing back spasms and back ache. Several muscles near the pelvis will spasm following a back injury, resulting buttock pain especially, combined with lower back pain and back aches that oftentimes do not show on an MRI or x-ray.
Trigger points may develop in the muscles when muscle spasm increases. These trigger points are the main reasons for the back spasm, buttock pain, and back pain as well as a huge reason for back aches. The dry needling technique is a powerful treatment that can help rid the body of these trigger points resulting in the alleviation of back spasms, back aches, and lower back pain.
Two big reasons for back pain following a back injury are usually the trigger points and the muscle spasm; the underlying cause of all of these is the injury which tends to heal itself eventually. This is the reason why for a lot of patients, their x-ray or MRI will not show anything, and their physician will not believe the reason for their back pain.
The effectiveness and safety of the Dry Needling technique leads to the breakup of these trigger points by means of a rapid needling of the affected area. Dry needling, unlike Acupuncture, is only performed for five to ten seconds; acupuncture needles remain in the body for around twenty minutes. A lot of acupuncturists including myself have found this technique to be quite effective in eliminating spine pain, buttock pain, back spasms, lower back pain, and back aches. By eradicating the trigger point which is the biggest reason for back pain following a back injury, alleviation of pain can be felt almost instantaneously.