There are many theories as to why acupuncture for lower back pain works so well – or any form of back pain for that matter. Traditional Chinese medical texts claim acupuncture corrects energy imbalances. There is strong scientific evidence that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce endorphins – its own painkillers. But some doctors maintain that the effect from acupuncture is purely psychological – you think it will work, so consequently it does work.
Also, as with many therapies, no one knows who will benefit from acupuncture. One patient with sciatica will get relief from chronic back pain; another patient with a comparable problem won’t. The same holds true for other kinds of back pain.
What is clear is that acupuncture for upper back pain does work in some cases and it provides relief in over half the time. Occasionally, it can eliminate pain for a patient’s lifetime.
How Does Acupuncture For Lower Back Pain Work?
In most acupuncture for lower back pain treatments, thin needles are inserted into points along meridian lines designated by ancient practitioners as channels of energy. There are usually very few complaints about pain from the insertion of the needles, which is most often described as a pinprick sensation that lasts an instant. During the treatment, patients say, a barely perceptible current or flow of pressure from one insertion point to another can be felt, but no pain is associated with it.
Some practitioners stimulate the needles using their hands; others attach electrodes to drive currents through the energy channels.
If you are wary of needles used for injections, rest assured that there is no comparison. Acupuncture needles are as thin as fine wires. They usually produce no bruising or bleeding. You are likely to feel comfortable, even relaxed and drowsy, during back pain treatments, which can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
How Many Sessions Of Acupuncture For Back Pain Do I Need?
If your back condition has not improved after five to ten sessions, you can assume that acupuncture – or at least the particular kind of back pain treatment you are receiving – will probably not help you.
Most acupuncturists in a recent US survey were medical doctors, a phenomenon that underscores the growing acceptance of acupuncture as a bona fide medical procedure. In the UK the two main health professionals who practice acupuncture are GPs and physiotherapists. If you decide to try acupuncture for back pain sciatica, make sure you get the most out of the venture by contacting the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.
There is no government legislation covering acupuncture at present. This means that unfortunately anyone can currently provide acupuncture treatment without any professional acupuncture training whatsoever. The Acupuncture Council maintains standards of education, ethics, practice and discipline to ensure the health and safety of the public at all times. It is also committed to promoting research and enhancing the role that traditional acupuncture can play in the health and well-being of the nation.
Can Acupuncture Help With Lower Back Pain
Although acupuncturists are usually practitioners of last resort for chronic back pain relief, being treated by an acupuncturist is worth a try and has far more healing value than a placebo. From a recent survey, a total of 54 per cent of people in the US, and 61 per cent of people in the UK survey, found some degree of relief from using acupuncture for upper back and neck pain. This figure is even more encouraging than it appears, because some of the US patients were pain-free for up to two years.
By comparison, the temporary pain relief gained from most other forms of treatment, including many prescription medications, usually lasts a few hours at best. Acupuncturists in the US survey who were medical doctors were neither more nor less successful than non-physician practitioners. The important variables were the number of years experience with acupuncture and the time invested in advising patients about simple back stretching and exercise plans, stress and day-to-day living habits.
In conclusion, acupuncturists may well be helpful in providing back pain relief but it is essential to seek a practitioner who is appropriately qualified. All kinds of back pain can respond favorably to acupuncture, including chronic back pain, mid and lower back pain, and neck and shoulder pain that has worsened over the years. The most successful acupuncturists combine acupuncture with exercise and lifestyle advice, and acupuncture may work for many kinds of back ailments. At least five to ten acupuncture for lower back pain treatments may be needed to determine effectiveness in individual cases.