It has been estimated that 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain during their lifetime. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture is an effective treatment for upper, middle, and lower back pain. In its official Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials report , the international health organization explored how acupuncture has been shown in clinical studies to help treat more than 40 different conditions. In Western society, we're often led to believe that there are few options for back pain – especially if chiropractic care or traditional medicine fails to bring relief. Before you give up hope, here's a closer look at how acupuncture works and how you can use it to eliminate pain and improve mobility.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a complete medical system that originated in China more than 3,000 years ago and has been consistently practiced since. At a practical level, acupuncture inclusions very thin needles being inserted into strategic points in the body at varying depths. The needles are typically painless going in, or patients feel a minor pricking sensation. In some cases, tension may be released from the point of insertion if it's being used to treat a particularly acute condition.
How effective is acupuncture at restoring back pain?
Recent peer-reviewed studies have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for back pain. One study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine demonstrated that 60% of patients treated with acupuncture had noticed improvements and 65% continued to experience improvements one year later. Further, both the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommend acupuncture for back pain relief.
How does acupuncture treat lower back pain?
In terms of Western medicine's perspective, lower back pain can be caused by a number of issues ranging from muscle strain to spinal issues. From the perspective of Eastern medicine and acupuncture, the body has energy (called qi) that flows along pathways. There are more than 2,000 identifiable points along these pathways that can be stimulated to release blockages or change patterns within the body. From a scientific perspective, this is understood to encourage the release of chemicals that dull pain and promote well-being.
What can I expect during my first visit?
During your first visit, your licensed acupuncturist will conduct a full exam. This will include taking a medical history, and asking you a variety of questions. Some are likely to be familiar from your annual physical while others may be unfamiliar. Your physical exam may include taking your pulse and examining your tongue, which are two common steps in Eastern-style medical diagnosis. Depending on your situation, other steps may be taken to gather more information. Your acupuncturist will then recommend a series of treatments, including the number of times to come each week or each month and a general duration or length of treatment.
During your first visit, you'll often receive your first acupuncture session. Future visits will then be scheduled. While the points used to treat the back varies broadly depending upon the cause of your issues and your unique situation, often points are used throughout the back, buttocks, and above the back of the knee for treatment. Discuss any questions about your treatment pattern or plan with your acupuncturist.
Life with back pain is unpleasant. In addition to dealing with chronic pain, many people find their activities are limited either due to mobility issues or fear of making the pain worse. Visiting a licensed acupuncturist in your area has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies for eliminating back pain and keeping it at bay over the long-term.