Acupuncture for back pain is an effective therapy and can be practiced using a traditional Chinese approach, inserting fine needles into acupuncture points situated along energy channels called meridians. Alternatively, a technique called ‘dry needling’ can be used, where needles are inserted into trigger points. Either way, when used as a therapy it can bring effective back pain relief fairly quickly.
Once the needles are in, they are ‘stimulated’ (usually by hand, occasionally by a mild electrical current) which triggers the body to make its own natural painkillers, called endorphins. A single treatment session can start to relieve back pain almost immediately, and continued sessions (about 1 per week) can help with long term relief.
By reducing pain and providing that much need relief, acupuncture for back pain can reduce your need for painkillers and therefore the likelihood of suffering unpleasant side-effects from medication – which is another key benefit for a natural back pain therapy. However, as acupuncture treats the pain rather than the cause of the pain, it is best viewed as a useful addition to a full back pain treatment program that includes exercise. It should not be seen as a cure in itself.
By reducing the level of pain you’re experiencing, it can enable you to get back to a more normal lifestyle, and work on dealing with the original problem that’s causing your back pain in the first place.
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. Using acupuncture for upper back pain therapy, you are likely to feel comfortable, even relaxed and drowsy, during treatments, which can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
The first acupuncture session will involve the practitioner assessing your general health and physical condition, and will likely end with a few minutes of having the needles inserted in key areas.