Acupuncture for Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common conditions that people seek the help of health care professionals for. In fact, roughly 80% of individuals will suffer from some form of back pain at some point in life. Because of the widespread problem of back pain, countless productive work hours as well as hours that could be spent doing fun physical activity are lost. Conventional treatments include pain killers, steroid injections, and surgery. Although these therapies can be effective for treating back pain, they often produce unwanted side effects or only provide temporary relief of symptoms
Acupuncture is a natural, non-invasive form of therapy that can effectively treat both acute and chronic back pain. In fact, it is one of the most time-tested treatments used for pain known to humankind. Its history dates back thousands of years, and the fact that millions of people still turn to acupuncture to treat their pain conditions is a testament to the effectiveness of this natural and safe form of therapy. Unlike some conventional forms of therapy, acupuncture can treat back pain with little, if any, side effects and no down time. Often, after getting treated with acupuncture, the only side effects that people experience are a sense of deep relaxation and more restful sleep.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is the system of healthcare under which acupuncture belongs, views pain differently than Western Medicine. According to TCM, the body is made up of meridians, or natural pathways of energy. When meridians become blocked, through overuse, bad posture, trauma, poor lifestyle habits, sickness, etc, pain and dysfunction occur. If nothing is done to correct the blockage, the pain issue endures and the body progresses into a state of imbalance. Acupuncture can be used to release these blockages in the energy channels and restore balance back to the body. Once balance is restored to the body, acupuncture is no longer necessary and may only be used occassionally for maintenance and fine tuning.
While Western Science does not seem to support the idea of energy pathways, or meridians, in the body, it does provide some theories as to how and why acupuncture works. Some theories suggest that acupuncture may treat pain by affecting the brain and the nervous system. By causing the body to release biochemicals that disrupt pain signals and promote a healing response in the areas of injury, acupuncture takes advantage of the body's own ability to heal itself. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that 60% of patients treated with acupuncture experienced meaningful improvements in dysfunction versus just 39% of those patients treated with more conventional therapies.
When seeking acupuncture therapy, it is recommended to see someone who is a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.). Licensed Acupuncturists are experts in their field and have received thousands of hours of training in acupuncture. "Certified" or "Registered" acupuncturists, or those who practice "dry needling", on the other hand, are often practitioners who have taken a crash course in acupuncture and have as little as 100 hours or less of training. Be sure to see a Licensed Acupuncturist to get the best care and the best results!
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