Acupuncture is a modified form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that dates back to thousands of years. This technique involves the insertion of small needles at the various strategic or trigger points on your body. These specific points throughout the skin are called “acupoints” and their stimulation links to healing properties of acupuncture.
Does Acupuncture Work for Lower Back Pain?
Acupuncture is known to relax muscles that could be causing pain. It also does this by increasing circulation to any given area that is being treated for pain. From a Chinese Medical perspective, acupuncture stimulates energy pathways, encourage the normal flow of Qi energy (which can be defined as circulation of blood and oxygen by western terms), and clear energy blockages to treat the illnesses.
Nowadays, acupuncture specialists also use other methods to stimulate these points – including massage, laser therapy, moxibustion, electrostimulation, and cupping. Our acupuncture center is in Encino, right next to famous Sherman Oaks. We specialize in using all these modalities to offer much relief and healing as possible to any patient with lower back pain.
Acupuncture therapy has many uses – from reducing chronic pains to getting relief from acute musculoskeletal conditions, and treating insomnia, migraine, anxiety, and depression. However, its most common use is treating both acute and chronic low back pain.
Role of acupuncture in diagnosing and treating low back pain
The principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine relies on both an aspect of deficiency and excess of Qi (energy) in the body. For instance, the inflammation and pain in the lower back is usually due to Qi not circulating (refers to a blocking of the energy). Similarly, acute low back pain secondary to muscle spasms is due to deficiency of energy required by the muscles to support your musculoskeletal system.
A doctor of acupuncture will assess the severity of pain and inflammation and closely examine your spine, muscles, take your pulse and examine your tongue. All these elements give the doctor information about your condition. Other exams may include general physical examination, blood tests, and modern imaging techniques (X-ray or MRI) to diagnose the underlying cause. If tests suggest both inflammation and pain, the therapy will include a two-pronged approach to treat and prevent both inflammation and pain.
Treating lower region back pain is perhaps the most popular and celebrated use of acupuncture therapy. Furthermore, its popularity is backed with numerous studies and clinical trials conducted that validates its safety and efficacy. At Balance Within located near famous Sherman Oaks, our acupuncture specialists incorporate all of these modalities to make sure our patients recover sooner with preventing further injuries.
Several medical studies have shown this traditional way of treatment to reduce pain and swelling up to 25-30% when used regularly for a variety of acute and chronic pains. However, the primary focus of acupuncture is on the chronic back pain. Secondary is tightness of back muscles, physical stress, pregnancy, poor posture, lack of sleep, and old injuries or traumas that never fully healed.
Relief of Slipped or Bulging Disc Pain and Inflammation
We can relieve the pain (for a couple days) in the case of slipped or bulging disc, but ultimately the pain will slowly come back. The solution is continuous acupuncture treatments, such as 2-3 times per week, and work with a chiropractor to help reduce the pressure and pain caused by bulging disc and reduce spinal pain. If the pain continues after a month of treatment by both acupuncture and chiropractor, your acupuncturist or chiropractor will reassess and possibly recommend more invasive procedures such as surgery.
At Balance Within, we have the experience to guide you through a slipped or bulging disc. We can help you start more natural solutions if we believe there is a chance it will help, and if we diagnose your injury as too severe, we will recommend a surgeon. Our goal is to heal your body with the least invasive methods whenever possible.
Other trigger points are remote (at a distance from the discomfort points), but their stimulation is scientifically backed to be effective in reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Remote acu-points are stimulated with the aim to stimulate a distant point that affects the area that is injured and inflammed, which boost blood supply towards the targeted area and thus promotes healing.
This recent study shows that acupuncture stimulates the production of pain-relieving chemicals (such as substance P) and anti-inflammatory chemicals (such as cytokines and tumor necrosis factor) and thus help reduce inflammation and pain.
Acu-points Release Natural Chemicals that Fight Pain
Some of the acupoints on and surrounding the affected area of the back pain are specifically targeted to subside inflammation and reduce pain.
At Balance Within, our unique style of acupuncture offers the least amount of sensation or discomfort to the patient which maximizes results. In addition, according to double blind studies, acupuncture may effectively relieve more pain than pain killer medications.
Strengthening the Back
TCM associates degeneration of vertebral discs with kidney deficiency. Acupuncture, coupled with other alternative therapies such as physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment, is shown to help strengthen the back muscles.
Although acupuncture is not able to cure disc degeneration, the therapy is associated with reducing the severity of lower back pain and restoring the functionality of the spine. Serving Sherman Oaks and Encino CA for almost 10 years, Balance Within Acupuncture specializes in treating pain that is caused by disc degeneration.
According to an analysis by Lizhou Liu, regular acupuncture sessions are shown to alleviate:
- Lower back pain
- Reduce swelling
- Slow the degenerative changes
- Boost the healing process.
With further advancements in the technique and diagnostic tools, our acupuncture specialists will be able to pinpoint the underlying cause and design an individualized treatment plan to treat and prevent low back pain and other ailments in the body.
1. Zijlstra, F. J., van den Berg-de Lange, I., Huygen, F. J., & Klein, J. (2003). Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture. Mediators of inflammation, 12(2), 59–69. https://doi.org/10.1080/0962935031000114943
2. Lee, Jun-Hwan KMD, PhD*; Choi, Tae-Young PhD†; Lee, Myeong Soo PhD†; Lee, Hyejung KMD, PhD‡; Shin, Byung-Cheul KMD, PhD§; Lee, Hyangsook KMD, PhD‡ Acupuncture for Acute Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review, The Clinical Journal of Pain: February 2013 – Volume 29 – Issue 2 – p 172-185 doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31824909f9
3. Liu, L., Skinner, M., McDonough, S., Mabire, L., & Baxter, G. D. (2015). Acupuncture for low back pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 328196. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/328196