Tag Archives: Back Pain

Dry Needling and Acupuncture For The Treatment of Back Pain

People question me every day whether or not acupuncture will work for the relief of their back injury or lower back pain. Some of them think that being pricked with tiny needles will actually cause more pain. I explain to them that acupuncture relieves physical pain because it stimulates the production and release of pain-killing substances within the body to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. The treatment is a very effective and safe way of alleviating both chronic and acute pain. I have found it especially advantageous in the management and treatment of back pain, back spasms, and back aches after a lower back injury.

What is Acupuncture?

One among the many modalities of an ancient medical system known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture is a treatment that involves the application of reed-thin acupuncture needles into specific parts of the body called acupuncture points located on the surface of the skin. Underneath these acupuncture points (acupoints) lie energy pathways called meridians wherein vital energy known as qi or chi flows to provide energy and nourishment to all organs and tissues throughout the body in order to heal a condition or maintain health. Besides acupuncture, TCM has other healing procedures that include Chinese herbal medicine and Yin and Yang breathing techniques.

Acupuncture is around 5000 years old and the Chinese were using it for various purposes, not just for the relief of pain. Acupuncture existed before steel was invented which meant the needles used then where made from thin bamboo shoots. The Chinese were using Acupuncture with great success long before they knew what was underneath the ‘needle’ they were placing into the body.

The acupoints and meridians are some of the fundamental principles underlying traditional acupuncture. Practitioners believe that the meridians were channels of energy that were associated with different vessels/organs in our body – the Heart, Large Intestine, Liver, etc. These meridians run all through our body. Traditional acupuncturists believe that for relief of any type of pain, be it back spasms, buttock pain, back aches, and acute or chronic pain, they need to tap into these meridians through the use of a ‘needle’. The needle does not necessarily have to be placed on or near the site of the discomfort.

For back injury and lower back pain, traditional acupuncture has constantly been shown to work in providing pain relief. Besides reducing chronic pain and back spasms, lower back pain acupuncture treatment can also help reduce long term changes in how the brain processes pain.

These past few years has seen the wider acceptance of acupuncture in Western culture particularly when it comes to pain relief from back pain, headaches and even pregnancy-related ailments. With more and more studies being conducted into the actual process of needling and how it works, a form of acupuncture has emerged in the West. It is known as Dry Needling and it especially works in the relief of muscle spasm, providing very fast relief from buttock pain, back spasm, and back aches resulting from muscle spasm after back injury.

Muscle Spasm

When a back injury occurs, the back muscles will spasm to protect the injured part of the body. This leads to really painful back spasms and aches. A lot of the muscles surrounding the pelvis will also spasm after a back injury, causing pain in the buttock oftentimes accompanied by lower back pain and back aches that may not be evident on MRI or x-ray scans.

Trigger points may develop in the muscles when muscle spasm intensifies. Those trigger points are the primary causes of back spasm, buttock pain, and back pain along with a major cause of back aches. The dry needling technique works perfectly in removing these trigger points which leads to total cure of the back spasms, back aches, and lower back pain.

A major cause of back pain after a back injury is usually the trigger points and muscle spasm, as the root underlying issue problem usually tends to heal itself. This is one reason why the MRI or x-ray will show nothing for a lot of sufferers, which causes their doctor to question the real cause of their back pain.

Dry Needling

Dry Needling is a very effective and safe way to eliminate these trigger points through fast needling of the area. Dry Needling, unlike Acupuncture, is performed for just five to ten seconds; a typical acupuncture procedure usually lasts for fifteen to twenty minutes. This technique I have found to work extremely well in the cure of spine pain, buttock pain, back spasms, lower back pain, and back aches. Pain relief can be felt almost instantaneously when the trigger point is removed since it’s the main cause for back pain after back injury.

Acupuncture is A Superior Alternative Treatment for Back Pain Than NSAIDs

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.

There is a Natural and Effective Approach to the Treatment of Back Pain

One of the most common reasons why patients seek-out acupuncture is for the relief of painful conditions. This may include pain in the back caused by arthritis, joint pain and chronic pain, particularly in the lower back. For a lot of individuals, Chinese medicine and acupuncture have been powerful treatment regimens for pain. But how do they work, and will it work you?

Pain, According to traditional Chinese Medicine

Joint and/or musculoskeletal pain is known as bi syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Bi based on the terminology of TCM, means blockage. This obstruction will manifest symptomatic qualities that result in hot, fixed or stabbing pain. Certain people find that exercise or movement can help with pain. Others, on the other hand, get better after resting. Several forms of joint and musculoskeletal disorders are classified arranged into a subcategory of bi syndrome. The correct Chinese herbal and acupuncture protocol that issued will depend on the accuracy of the diagnosis of bi the patient suffers from as well as the obstruction of blood and qi in the problematic part of the body.

Acupuncture for Back Pain Treatment

Acupuncture’s goes is to deactivate and eliminate the trigger points that cause back pain. Trigger points are the parts of the body where the inflammation and blockages are located. The patient’s pattern of pain will determine the placement of the needles. The use of both Chinese medicine and acupuncture treats a condition in two ways:

1. The treatment reduces first the inflammation as well as the stagnation and congestion of blood and energy. This leads to the alleviation of pain.

2. the next step is to boost the circulation of blood and energy to restore nourishment to the muscles, discs and tendons and help the patient go back to a subtle, more mobile state.

Based on TCM theory, certain muscles will manifest the patterns of pain patterns in parts of the body that may not be related to the inflammation and obstruction. A qualified and licensed acupuncturist will know where the trigger points are located in order to deactivate them and will have knowledge in knowing detecting the patterns of pain. This acupuncturist can then proceed to treatment using needles inserted into both the distal and nearby acupoints of the affected region of the body. This will stimulate the meridians and to bring pain relief to the affected regions. This will, at the same time address the more profound reason of the cause of the pain.

Studies Show that Acupuncture is a Proven Effective Treatment for Back Pain

A study done recently and posted in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrates that acupuncture is a much better treatment for back pain compared to conventional modalities. This study, subsidized by the NIH or National Institutes of Wellness, classified 640 subjects into four groups. One group was given placebo treatment while two groups were given acupuncture. The last group was the control group which was allowed to continue whatever type of conventional treatment they were undergoing prior to the study.

At the end of seven weeks, all the three 3 groups who received acupuncture (including the placebo treatment) experienced substantial and greater improvement in their back pain compared to the ones who were under conventional forms of treatment.

With regards to the efficacy of acupuncture even used as a placebo treatment, questions were raised about how acupuncture truly works and how it is so effective in triggering recovery. About 61% of the acupuncture-treated subjects showed significant improvement while only 39% of group given conventional treatment should meaningful improvements in their back pain.

Why not try Acupuncture for Low Back Pain?

There are about 86% of people in the United States who will experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. This will translate into health care expenses totaling $40 billion each year just for back pain treatment. People who have suffered from this exhausting and chronic condition are ware that good and safe treatments are needed for their condition. Acupuncture is quite a safe and inexpensive way to help them overcome their back pain. With proof of its effectiveness people suffering from this debilitating condition can find some hope of relief with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.