Relieving Low Back Pain with Acupuncture

Low back pain affects 60 to 80% of the adult U.S. population at one time or another. Low back problems affect the spine's flexibility, stability and strength, which can cause pain, discomfort and stiffness. It is one of the most frequent causes of missed work and one of the most costly conditions to treat in the United States.

What is low back pain?

Back pain can be caused by a variety of problems. It can even be caused by conditions that occur in other parts of the body, with pain being transmitted to the back via the nervous system. Most back pain is muscular in nature. It can be caused by strain from lifting, bending or twisting. Some low back pain may be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as infection, arthritic condition or ovarian cysts. It can be caused by a ruptured or bulging disk. Fractures of the spine can also cause low back pain, especially in those with osteoporosis. Furthermore, poor fitness, smoking and mental/emotional issues increase a person's risk for low back problems. The majority of backache sufferers complain of pain in the lower back. The other common area of discomfort is in the base of the neck.

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

The National Institutes of Health recommend acupuncture as a reasonable treatment option for back pain. An acupuncturist's management of low back pain will involve a comprehensive approach including electro-stimulation acupuncture (a machine that produces a mild electric current is attached to the acupuncture needles with clips), Tui Na (acupressure, manipulation), application of warming techniques (herbal oils, herbal patches, moxibustion), and patient education.

Acupuncture is generally the treatment of choice in acute cases of back pain and can play an important role in the reduction or elimination of chronic back pain by reducing recovery time and preventing a condition from developing. It can help avoid more invasive surgical procedures. Acupuncture can also lower the need for pain medication, which can lead to addiction and unwanted side effects.

Studies on Low Back Pain and Acupuncture