Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor. It is said that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, and most will eventually seek treatment from an acupuncturist as it has been found that acupuncture is one of the best treatments for this type of pain. The American Pain Society and American College of Physicians recommend acupuncture as an alternative treatment when lower back pain persists after conventional treatment.
When treating a patient for back pain, the acupuncturist inserts extremely thin needles in specific points of the body. These points are connected by pathways (or meridians) facilitating a flow of energy known as Qi or the body’s life force. The stimulation of these pathways helps correct any imbalance or disease in the body. The theory behind the effectiveness of this treatment for back pain is that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system which then releases chemicals or endorphins into the muscles of the back, the spinal cord and even the brain, allowing the muscles and the entire body to relax. It takes a number of acupuncture treatments for the pain to completely disappear, usually two or three times a week for 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the patient and the extent of his or her back injury.
Back pain comes in various forms. If it is caused by an injury the pain is usually severe, a stabbing or shooting pain. However, with treatment it is generally cured in a relatively short time – the two to three week period. Back pain can also be chronic – which means it is a dull ache in the lower back, stiffness and difficulty in standing up straight, and tends to last for months. Chronic back pain has many causes; it can be caused by overdoing exercise over a long period of time, arthritis, or a damaged disc that is impinging on the nerves. It can also be due to depression or stress. Chronic back pain is especially responsive to acupuncture treatment. The relaxation of the muscles caused by acupuncture allows the body to relax and induces a feeling of overall wellbeing.
Another benefit of acupuncture treatment for back pain is that it can lead to fewer unfavorable side effects than many of the conventional treatments. You must remember, however, to check the credentials of the acupuncturist. When you are treated by an experienced acupuncturist it is safe, and you will not experience any serious side effects.
Controlled trials have been carried out in many countries to find out how effective acupuncture is for lower back pain. The majority of the trials have concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment, especially for chronic lower back pain. The trials also recommend it as an important supplement of conservative orthopedic treatment. It is always best to discuss the option of acupuncture treatment with your doctor and to keep him informed of your progress. In turn, the acupuncturist will study the notes provided your doctor before starting treatment so as to be aware of the history of your ailment.