Can Acupuncture Help Your Back Pain?
It's difficult to think about anything else when your back aches. Every little movement sends ripples of pain throughout your entire back, no matter how gingerly you walk, bend or reach. Whether you're suffering from strained muscles, arthritis, disc problems, poor posture or other back issues, medication isn't the only option. Acupuncture treatments relieve pain naturally and can provide long-lasting relief.
How Acupuncture Eases Pain
Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people seek medical attention. In fact, people with back pain see their doctors almost twice as often as those without, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
Back pain may improve with rest, but that's not always the case. Whether you've had a backache for a few days or a few months, acupuncture eases your pain by:
- Enhancing Qi Flow. Qi, a natural energy that flows through your body, is essential for your comfort and good health. If blockages occur in the pathways that carry Qi, you may experience pain and other symptoms. Inserting hair-thin acupuncture needles in specific spots in a pathway unclogs blockages, relieving pain.
- Altering Pain Centers in the Brain. Acupuncture may change the way your brain reacts to pain. In a systematic review published in Frontiers in Neuroscience in 2021, acupuncture altered several areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex processes the pain signals sent to the brain from the various parts of the body. Although the study provides interesting information on the way acupuncture works, researchers noted that more research is needed to explore the effects of acupuncture on the brain's pain centers.
- Releasing Natural Painkillers. Acupuncture treatments increase your body's production of serotonin and endorphins, hormones that dull pain naturally.
Other Ways Acupuncture Helps Back Pain
Acupuncture treatments also:
- Relieve Muscle Spasms and Loosen Knots. Acupuncture stops muscles from spasming and relaxes tight bundles of muscle fibers that cause painful knots.
- Ease Spinal Stenosis Pain. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows due to the effects of osteoarthritis. When this happens, your spinal cord and the nerves in your back can become compressed, triggering pain. A study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies in 2021 explored the effects of acupuncture, medication and exercise on spinal stenosis. According to researchers, both acupuncture and medication significantly improved pain while only acupuncture improved physical function.
- Decrease Stress. Stress causes muscles to tighten in every part of your body, including your back. If you already have back pain, stress only makes the problem worse. Flooding your body with serotonin and endorphins during acupuncture treatment not only eases pain, but also relieves stress and enhances relaxation.
- Boost Circulation. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients throughout your body and removes waste products. Improving circulation makes it easier for your body to get rid of waste products that could cause or worsen pain.
Acupuncture Could Help You Reduce Your Reliance on Pain Killers
In most cases, medication only provides short-term pain relief. Acupuncture offers results that may last days, weeks or months. Thanks to your treatments, you may be able to stop taking pain medication or decrease the dosage.
Opioids, narcotic medications used to treat severe pain, can lead to addiction. Adding acupuncture to your treatment regimen may mean that you never need to take narcotics or only need to take them for a short period of time.
Other medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, can cause side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. Luckily, side effects aren't a problem with acupuncture. Treatments can also help you manage your symptoms if you do develop side effects from a medication you take.
Inflammation May Subside With Acupuncture Treatment
Although inflammation is important for healing in the early stages of an injury, it may be a contributing factor in pain if it continues long-term. Inflammation may also cause swelling that makes your back feel stiff. Acupuncture treatments balance the natural chemicals that cause inflammation, easing soreness and stiffness.
Are you ready to try acupuncture for your back pain? Pick up the phone and give us a call to schedule your appointment.
Georgetown University Health Policy Institute: Chronic Back Pain
Frontiers in Neuroscience: Neuroimaging Studies of Acupuncture on Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review, 9/20/2021
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies: A Comparative Study of Three Conservative Treatments in Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis With Acupuncture and Physical Therapy Study (LAP Study), 1/19/2018
Spine Universe: Acupuncture for Back Pain: Is It Effective?, 7/13/2022