Thursday, April 25, 2024
HomeMust ReadIs Acupuncture Effective For Lower Back Pain

Is Acupuncture Effective For Lower Back Pain

Study: Acupuncture Eases Low Back Pain

Acupuncture For Neck and Lower Back Pain

Patients Report More Pain Relief From Acupuncture Than Conventional Treatment

Sept. 24, 2007 — Acupuncture proved to be more effective than conventional lower back pain treatments in a new study, but it was no more effective than a sham needle procedure.

The German study compared outcomes among 1,162 patients with chronic low back pain treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture sham acupuncture or a conventional approach to treating back pain using drugs, physical therapy, and exercise.

The study is the largest investigation of acupuncture vs. conventional nonsurgical treatment for lower back pain ever reported, researchers say.

“Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain,” researcher Heinz Endres, MD, tells WebMD. “Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain — and therefore in their quality of life.”

Is Acupuncture Effective At Treating Lower Back Pain

The lower back bears the brunt of some of the bodys most demanding activities. The lower back must support the weight of the head, arms, and upper back, and many daily hours of sitting can cause stiffness, tiredness, and collapse, which in turn can create wear on discs and nerve compression. Poor posture, acute injuries, straining when moving or lifting objects, being overweight, uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes, and many more facts of daily life can cause back pain and injuries.

Lower back pain has become an epidemic across the United States, and the statistics are staggering. More people see their doctor for back pain than for any other complaint besides upper-respiratory infections. Fifty percent of all working Americans report having back pain on an annual basis, and over $50 billion dollars is spent on managing back pain each year. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, lower back pain is the leading cause of disease across the world. As many as 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Acupuncture has proved to be very successful at treating some back pain, both scientifically and anecdotally. At Awaken Integrative Wellness, we provide you with a holistic solution to managing back pain that can work hand in hand with other pain-relief measures you may be taking.

When To See A Physician

One way that you can have acupuncture sessions with a bit of peace of mind is to consult with your doctor before your sessions. Often, a physician will have a better idea of how your body will react to the procedure, like pain tolerance, the general need for acupuncture, and overall post-procedure aftercare.

They can also help with reducing the common side effects that may arise from acupuncture sessions, like swelling, inflammation, and bleeding. Typically, youd want to inform your physician about the regularity of your visits to the acupuncturist, and any physical changes that happen after each procedure.

Visiting a physician is also essential if youre on medications like anticoagulants, have a pre-existing condition like anemia, or are going through pregnancy. While acupuncture is a minimally invasive procedure that doesnt carry immediate risks, the unknown complications of how it interacts with each person mean you need to be very careful about going through with it if you fall under any of these categories.

Finally, if you experience any symptoms or changes that are not explicitly linked to your acupuncture sessions, your physician can diagnose and treat these changes if they need immediate attention. Overall, acupuncture as an alternative method of pain management isnt a bad idea, but it should always come with a doctors approval.

Read Also: What Kind Of Doctor Treats Lower Back Pain

Common Cause Of Back Pain

Lumbar muscle strains and sprains are the most common causes of low back pain. Many weekend warriors experience injuries and pain from trying to tackle large home projects, such as painting the exterior of their home or doing their own landscaping.

The low back is susceptible to strain because of its weight-bearing function and connection in movements, such as twisting and bending. Muscle strain is caused when muscle fibers are over-stretched or torn. Inflammation is common at the site of injury, usually accompanied by pain with movement. Muscle cramping or spasms can occur, as well as decreased function and/or range of motion.

Not Covered By Medical Insurance

Is Acupuncture Effective in Treating Lower Back Pain

Acupuncture is typically not seen as a medical expense by many insurance companies. So if you run into an accident that involves your acupuncture sessions, its likely that it wont be covered by medical insurance. Even if the effects are close to medical-related injuries like bleeding or nerve damage, itll be an uphill battle to have any healthcare provider cover for expenses with treating them.

So if you are looking to get into acupuncture, keep in mind that you will need to provide your own insurance to make sure that youre protected in case things go awry. Again, getting to a licensed acupuncturist will significantly reduce the chance of the procedure going wrong.

These considerations should always be kept in mind when going to acupuncture. Despite all of its benefits and tangible improvements it can make for a patient, there is still much that hasnt been studied about acupuncture. For this reason, only consider it to treat low-risk and chronic conditions like lower back pain, and not as an active cure for these ailments.

Also Check: Why Do I Have Sudden Lower Back Pain

Study Selection Data Extraction And Assessment Of Risk Of Bias

Study selection, data extraction, and assessment of risk of bias were performed independently by two investigators . Two Cochrane’s risk of bias tools were utilized for evaluating the risk of bias of included randomized controlled trials and non-RCTs, respectively. Discrepancies were addressed by discussion or consulting a third party .

For the eligible studies, we retrieved the following: basic information: first author’s name, year of publication, country, and diagnosis methodology: characteristics and sample size of participants, study design, acupuncture intervention , imaging modality, and analysis methods and brain imaging data.

Acupuncture For Low Back Pain No Longer Recommended For Nhs Patients

New advice represents a u-turn in treatment for back pain, which affects one in 10 people, after evidence review showed acupuncture no better than a placebo

Acupuncture is no longer recommended as a treatment for low back pain on the NHS, according to new draft guidelines released today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .

The u-turn comes after a review of scientific evidence found that the practice was no better than a placebo in treating those living with low back pain and sciatica.

The draft guidelines report that there have now been a large number of scientific trials looking into the effectiveness of acupuncture but that, there was still not compelling and consistent evidence of a treatment-specific effect for acupuncture.

Low back pain is thought affect one in 10 people, while its cost to the UK economy is estimated to exceed £12 billion a year in lost productivity.

Nice guidelines from 2009 on the early management of low back pain recommended that healthcare providers consider offering a course of acupuncture needling comprising up to a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks.

But the new draft guidelines, now covering sciatica as well as low back pain, contain an unequivocal volte-face, stating: Do not offer acupuncture for managing non-specific low back pain with or without sciatica.

Also Check: Can A Firm Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain

Early Development In China

Establishment and growth

In the first half of the 1st century AD, acupuncturists began promoting the belief that acupuncture’s effectiveness was influenced by the time of day or night, the lunar cycle, and the season.:140â41 The Science of the Yin-Yang Cycles was a set of beliefs that curing diseases relied on the alignment of both heavenly and earthly forces that were attuned to cycles like that of the sun and moon.:140â41 There were several different belief systems that relied on a number of celestial and earthly bodies or elements that rotated and only became aligned at certain times.:140â41 According to Needham and Lu, these “arbitrary predictions” were depicted by acupuncturists in complex charts and through a set of special terminology.

Acupuncture needles during this period were much thicker than most modern ones and often resulted in infection. Infection is caused by a lack of sterilization, but at that time it was believed to be caused by use of the wrong needle, or needling in the wrong place, or at the wrong time.:102â03 Later, many needles were heated in boiling water, or in a flame. Sometimes needles were used while they were still hot, creating a cauterizing effect at the injection site.:104 Nine needles were recommended in the Chen Chiu Ta Chheng from 1601, which may have been because of an ancient Chinese belief that nine was a magic number.:102â03

Efficacy Of Electronic Acupuncture Shoes For Chronic Low Back Pain: Double

NICE Guidelines for Low Back Pain and Acupuncture – Short

1Division of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou, Taoyuan, Taiwan

2School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

3Sleep Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan

4Graduate Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, School of Chinese Medicine, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

5Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Keelung, Taiwan

6Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan

7Graduate Institute of Integrated Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, and Chinese Medicine Research Center, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

8Department of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

9Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan

*these authors contributed equally

Division of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou

No.123, Dinghu Rd., Guishan Township

Taoyuan, 33378


You May Like: How To Tape Your Back For Lower Back Pain

The Causes Of Back Pain

Sometimes it can seem as though there are almost as many causes for back pain as there are people who experience it. Any or a combination of the structures that make up the lower back can be affected, including the vertebrae , muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. The lower, or lumbar, spine is particularly vulnerable, in part due to its high degree of mobility. The lower spine is made up of the lumbar and sacral vertebrae , the nerves that make up the spinal cord, and the muscles and ligaments that allow us to move.

Muscle strain is a common cause of lower back pain. Also known as a pulled muscle, a strain is caused when a muscle is overstretched or torn due to improper use, overuse, or fatigue. A myriad of structural problems can also cause back pain. Bulging, herniated, or ruptured discs can put pressure on nerves, sometimes causing severe pain. Compressed nerves can cause symptoms such as pain, tingling, and numbness. Still other causes include scoliosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, spinal infection, or a spinal tumor. Kidney pain can also cause lower back ache.

Acupuncture Should Not Be A Last Resort Treatment Option

Acupuncture has been an integral part of Chinese Medicine for over 4,000 years, although the benefits were slowly discovered in the Western world. Today, as people are becoming more aware of alternative treatmentsand seeking pain relief options that do not include medicationacupuncture seems to have jumped to the top of many peoples radar. Still, I find it interesting when people who have suffered from a certain condition long term consider acupuncture a last resort option.

While over-the-counter or prescription pain medications may offer some relief, the relief is temporary and does not treat the underlying issue or cause of the pain. Medication may mask the pain to the point that a person continues to do a certain activity that may worsen their physical situation.

Acupuncture unblocks and moves the bodys energy through the bodys functional systems. Photo Source:

Don’t Miss: What Causes Lower Back Pain That Radiates Down The Legs

It Changes The Chemistry Of The Brain

Acupuncture treatment works by making modifications to the brain’s chemistry. The treatment helps change the brain by altering the release of the neurotransmitters that work to stimulate or dampen nerve impulses or by releasing the neurohormones that work to improve the functioning of the body. According to Spine Universe, these natural chemicals may either change the pain experience or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones that influence the body’s own internal regulating system.

Neuroimaging Studies Of Acupuncture On Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review

Who Should Use Acupuncture for Chronic Back Pain?
  • Acupuncture and Tuina School, Acupuncture and Brain Science Research Center, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, China

Objectives: This study was conducted in order to investigate the study design and main outcomes of acupuncture neuroimaging studies on low back pain .

Methods: Neuroimaging studies of acupuncture on LBP were collected from three English databases such as PubMed and four Chinese databases such as China National Knowledge Infrastructure from inception to December 31, 2020. Study selection, data extraction, and assessment of risk of bias were performed independently by two investigators. The quality of studies was appraised with the Cochrane’s risk of bias tools. Information on basic information, methodology, and brain imaging data were extracted.

Results: The literature search returned 310 potentially eligible studies and 19 articles met inclusion criteria 78.9% of studies chose manual acupuncture as the intervention, 89.5% of studies evaluated functional changes elicited by acupuncture, and 68.4% of studies used resting-state fMRI as imaging condition. The most frequently reported acupuncture-induced brain alterations of LBP patients were in the prefrontal cortex, insula, cerebellum, primary somatosensory cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. There was a significant correlation between improved clinical outcomes and changes in the brain.

Recommended Reading: How Do You Ease Lower Back Pain

Is Acupuncture An Effective Treatment For Back Pain

Multiple scientific studies have shown that acupuncture provides as good or better results than standard routine treatment. Other research has shown acupuncture to be a valuable complement to conventional solutions, allowing patients to curb their use of pain killers. Acupuncture has also been studied in terms of work-related back pain and has been shown to result in fewer work days lost.

The American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians released guidelines in 2007 recommending acupuncture as a possible non-pharmaceutical option for patients with chronic low-back pain where standard self-care measuressuch as heat, light stretching, and analgesicsare ineffective.

Acupuncture has also been studied and shown to be effective in treating other pain-related conditions, such as migraines, arthritis, and labor pain. Above all, acupuncture treats the patient rather than treating the disease, so the effectiveness of your course of acupuncture will depend in part on the causes behind the pain and whether acupuncture is effective at treating those issues.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve Lower Back Pain

But how does acupuncture help with back pain, specifically?

Acupuncture helps relieve back pain by targeting the pressure points at the back of the body. Needles are inserted at various points, which roughly correspond to the energy centers or meridians that affect body function. There are some specific meridians that acupuncture can use to affect the lower back, including but not limited to:

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Back of the knees

The needles are inserted in specific nerve clusters around these areas, which are thought to help relieve tension, pressure, and overall pain in the lower back. Its important to note that acupuncture has different meridians for pain on other parts of the body. Each needle is pinpointed to a specific area, which means more localized treatment.

But how does sticking needles in your body help with lower back pain? There are three major theories how this helps:

Also Check: What Is The Best Treatment For Back Pain

Does Acupuncture Really Work

Theres a lot of skepticism surrounding acupuncture since it has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine rather than Western medical treatments. On the surface, there seems to be nothing supporting its efficacy aside from the fact that its been around for a long time. And while its been hailed as one of the better choices in complementary and alternative medicine, the procedure itself can be very intimidating to people who arent familiar with it.

However, there is some evidence that supports acupunctures efficacy in treating a variety of medical conditions. Acupuncture has shown limited success with dealing with issues like osteoarthritis, migraines, insomnia, and even some cases of PMS and period cramps.

But one of the most common concerns addressed with acupuncture is chronic pain, especially pain around the neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and back. While the foundational philosophy of acupuncture might be a little harder to take at face value like energy balancing and qi, there is some well-established research about the actual medical benefits it provides.

What You Should Know About Back Pain And Acupuncture

Acupuncture and lower back pain

Acupuncture is a safe procedure and therapy when you see a professional certified acupuncturist.

Avoid receiving acupuncture from someone who is not qualified or certified. It helps to do background research on a practitioner. Or, talk to someone you trust who has seen an acupuncturist for back pain. Ask them about practitioners they would recommend or refer.

People who have received acupuncture sometimes report soreness, bruising, and minor bleeding at puncture sites. These issues should clear up and go away in a few days. It also poses little to no risk to overall health.

If youre pregnant, certain types of acupuncture could stimulate labor and delivery. Talk to your acupuncturist about your pregnancy beforehand.

If you take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder, acupuncture poses some health risks. Make sure to discuss your issues and medications with your acupuncturist before therapy. Bleeding can happen during the therapy, though this is rare.

Needles must be sterile and disposable. But, make sure to keep puncture sites clean after each session to prevent risk of infection. Risk of infection is small if you see a well-trained professional.

Don’t Miss: What To Do When You Have Back Pain During Pregnancy


Most Popular