Acupuncture for Back Pain
Many people ask about acupuncture for back pain. Yes, acupuncture can help relieve back pain!
Types of Back Pain
Back pain occurs in two types: acute and chronic. The former occurs in response to trauma, such as strain or sprain of lumbar muscles due to incorrect movement when lifting something. The latter persists for months or years, and may arise from acute injury, postural issues, or internal organ disorders.
Acupuncture often works very well for relief of acute lumbar strain. It works best if you get acupuncture for back pain due to acute injury as soon as possible, within 24 hours of the injury.
In Chinese medicine, we have a saying: pain means no flow, flow means no pain. Acute strain or sprain of a muscle or joint causes the body to reflexively tense in an position that minimizes pain. The tension results in a restriction of blood flow to an from the injured area; this results in accumulation of metabolic wastes and deficiency of nutrition to the injured tissues.
Acupuncture for back pain due to injury focuses on releasing the tension, reducing inflammation, and increasing blood flow through the injured area.
Acute injury also benefits from use of herbal medicines that relieve pain and inflammation. I use internal herbs and external plasters when appropriate.
Prompt treatment often provides some immediate relief. I have seen patients go from rating their pain at 9/10 at the beginning of a treatment, to 5/10 by the end of a treatment. With acute injuries I generally recommend getting treatment every other day until the pain level goes below 5/10. Usually this takes about 1 week or less if you get frequent treatments.
During and after acute treatment, I recommend using the Egoscue method of postural alignment to correct any muscle imbalances making you prone to injury. You can learn about the Egoscue method by reading the Pain Free books by Pete Egoscue.
If you have repeated strain or sprain, again I strongly recommend the Egoscue Method as found in Pete Egoscue's Pain Free books.
Chronic back or neck pain indicates either chronic muscle weakness or imbalances or internal organ issues.
Chronic muscle weakness arises from insufficient high intensity exercise for the lumbar and abdominal musculature. I recommend regular strength training to maintain the strength of these muscles throughout life.
However, strength training can exacerbate lumbar pain due to chronic muscle imbalances. Therefore, before engaging in a strength training program, you should have your body checked for muscle imbalances, either by appointment with me or do it yourself by getting Pete Egoscue's book, Pain Free.
Acupuncture for Herniated Disk
For herniated disk, I recommend getting acupuncture for back pain, herbal medicines to relieve inflammation and stimulate healing, and the Egoscue method to correct muscle imbalances and decompress the spinal disks.
Diet, Disks, and Chronic Back Pain
Research has shown that atherosclerosis of arteries supplying the lumbar muscles can cause chronic lower back pain by cutting off the blood supply to the muscles. Reduced blood flow can also cause disks to weaken, resulting in herniation of disks.
Atherosclerosis results from a high fat diet rich in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Both fat and excessive intake of protein promote atherosclerosis. If you have chronic back pain you can help yourself with a plant-based diet , because research has shown that a low fat whole foods plant based diet can reverse atherosclerosis.
Internal Organs and Back Pain
Chinese medicine recognizes that chronic low grade back pain can arise from internal organ issues. Specifically, chronic mild lumbar pain may indicate one of several issues, including:
• Deficiency of kidney yin: lumbar pain accompanied by weak knees and legs, hot flashes, night sweats, thirst for warm beverages, dry membranes.
Chronic back and neck pain issues require longer treatment than acute issues. I prefer to treat these with a combination of herbal therapy and acupuncture. As noted above, diet is a key therapy for chronic back pain.
Science Daily reports on a study that found that
acupuncture may treat low back pain more effectively than conventional therapy.