Learn about acupuncture for lower back pain from a naturopathic doctor.
by Grace Im, O.M.D.
The vast majority of adults experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. In fact, our lower back bears much of our weight and physical stress. The lower back is susceptible to strain because of its weight-bearing function and twisting and bending movements. Back pain can result from poor posture, excessive extension or twisting of the back, structural conditions, degenerative disc problems, osteoarthritis or acute trauma. This pain can be debilitating when it becomes a chronic condition. Finding a treatment option that can alleviate chronic back pain is often a long and frustrating process.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), “results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain.”
As our society becomes more sedentary and dependent on computer and desk work, there is an increase in pain and weakness of the lower back. The new lifestyle we have been forced to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic can wreak havoc on our bodies. As such, a large portion of the population is seeking relief from back pain.
Current medical treatments include pain medications, steroids, and surgical interventions. These options may help for short period of time, but more often than not, they cause more harm than good. Acupuncture works to address the underlying cause of lower back pain whether it is caused from an injury or illness. Beyond treating the symptoms alone, acupuncture can support the body’s overall health and wellbeing.
There are many ways to help alleviate low back pain. Here are some of the things that can help you:
Exercise. Doing stretches and strengthening exercises designed for the lower back can keep your muscles strong. We like low-impact exercises such as yoga, biking, swimming, and walking.
Dietary changes. Eliminating food that causes inflammation can help to manage pain.
Weight management. Being overweight can put an extra strain on your spine, so managing weight effectively can decrease back pain.
Cold or hot compress. Applying heat or ice of your preference can help to ease the pain.
Complementary therapy. Additional therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic or physical therapy can play a significant role in pain reduction.
Acupuncture can benefits the lower back in several ways:
Increase blood flow to the area
Release muscle tension
Reduce the need for surgery or medication
Here’s how acupuncture for lower back pain works. Needles are carefully placed on specific parts of the body that are associated with certain health conditions to help you feel better. The treatment protocols will depend on what is causing the pain, duration of pain, and severity of pain. Patients are advised to start with weekly treatment sessions until they start to feel improvement. As your pain starts to decrease, the frequency of treats will also decrease.
The key to successfully treating low back pain is consistency. Thankfully, relatively few risks are involved compared to many of the side effects of pain management medications. Many patients find acupuncture to bring relief to their pain, keeping them away from addictive pain medications or invasive surgical treatments.
Lower back pain can be debilitating by affecting our ability to enjoy life and simply perform daily activities. Even the simplest tasks become difficult with pain. If you are searching for ways to reduce your back pain, acupuncture may be your safest and most effective option.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Acupuncture: In depth. January 2016. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction. Accessed August 19, 2016