Unlike dislocations or fractures and other injuries similar to them, a majority of disk herniations do not happen accidentally, but rather occur slowly through cumulative degenerative processes. It is important to understand that back surgery has never been a lasting solution for most cases of low back pain. An increased risk of developing another herniated disk in another part of the body may occur, if the cause of the disk injury is not promptly addressed.
To clarify this matter, we need to use a specific analogy: if the overconsumption of greasy, fatty foods is the reason for a person’s facial acne problem, then use of an anti-acne ointment is merely a temporary solution. This is because the acne will recur over and over again if the person persists on eating the same types and amounts of food. If smoking was the reason for your lung cancer, then surgery to remove the cancerous tissues will be of little use if patient does not change the particular lifestyle like frequent smoking that caused the development of his cancer in the first place.
A herniated disk, its causes
The factor involved in the occurrence of this problem is a combination of emotional and biomechanical stress.
For most people, emotional stress is not commonly associated with disk injury. Even most specialists of the back do not recognize disk herniation or degeneration as due to emotional stress; these days, however, some back pain sufferers have remembered having been under severe periods of stress just prior to the start of their back pain. The autonomic nervous system can come into a state of sympathetic dominance due to prolonged emotional stress resulting in weak blood circulation to the peripheral and muscle tissues and to a lot of organs in the body. A lessened flow of blood in the lumbar muscles causes the muscles to tighten up and they then become easily fatigued and start to lose their flexibility. Besides that, a state of chronic sympathetic dominance increases the number of white blood known as granulocytes in the body and this increase causes degenerative alterations and inflammation of the disks and spine.
Back problems can be caused by various factors including standing and walking with poor posture, sitting for long periods and some heavy lifting.
Disk injury treatments that are non-surgical
With the use of acupuncture as well as biofeedback and soft tissue manipulation both the psycho-emotional and biomechanical causes of back problems can be effectively addressed. Stimulating the affected muscles with acupuncture needles can help adjust biomechanical imbalances and distortion. Acupuncture can be applied to the entire body to resolve imbalances in the autonomic nervous system. The goal is to generate a desired relaxation response by enhancing the parasympathetic system and lowering at the same time excessive sympathetic activation. Acupuncturists focus more on the alleviation of stress to avoid the damaging effects of prolonged stress in the body since in this post modern age, it is virtually impossible to avoid stress in our life. Some acupuncturists will combine heart rate variability biofeedback technique with acupuncture to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
The Difference between Pain Medication and Acupuncture
NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs used for the relief of back pain have certain side effects that may include liver damage and gastric irritation. In contrast, acupuncture has none of the side-effects these drugs produce whatsoever. In the treatment of joint and muscle pain, acupuncture works in an entirely different way than drugs do.
Most anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs are ideal ways to relieve pain in the short term. They work by preventing the production of prostaglandins, which are pain-causing substances in the body. Besides inducing pain, prostaglandins also act as vasodilators that aid in the improvement of blood flow. NSAIDs help lower the body’s sensitivity to pain but at the same time curtail the supply of blood to the joints and muscles, which only prolongs recovery and generates more problems.
However, with acupuncture, blood flow is increased in the part of the body affected by the discomfort and pain. This is achieved by acupuncture’s ability to normalize the autonomic nervous system (the system responsible for the production of relaxation effects, the normalization of blood flow and the regulation of internal organ system functioning). When the boosted circulation causes an improvement in the affected tissues, the muscles start to relax and pain relief is immediately felt. In certain instances, however, the improvement of blood flow initially intensifies the pain in the affected area, but is then followed by muscle relaxation and tissue repair.
Adequate blood flow to the tissues is vital because blood not only nourishes the tissues but also alleviates muscle fatigue and eliminates pain-causing substances leading to healthy tissues. Tight muscles, on the other hand, because of poor circulation results in muscle fatigue making the body more susceptible to injury.