Back pain is a common reason for people to visit their primary physician. Although it seems like a minor problem it can lead to loss working days and if severe it can even affect the quality of life.
Common Causes of Back Pain Treated with Acupuncture
Back pain can be caused due to several reasons like injury, sprains, strains, herniated disc, sciatica. Acupuncture is effective for treatment of back pain due to sprains (caused to overstretching one or more of the ligaments in the back) and strains (caused by injury or tear in the muscle by sudden force). Acupuncture can help to relieve back pain due to herniated disc, sciatica (a type of back pain in which the pain extends down into the buttocks and leg). Sciatica is caused due to irritation of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine.
The prescription medications used to treat back pain are not very effective and the side effects of the medications can be problematic. Due to these limitations of the prescription medications people with chronic back pain often seek alternative therapies. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat back pain. It is a widely accepted form of alternative treatment for back pain in many societies and is being increasingly used in the developed countries as well for back pain.
What does an acupuncture treatment consist of?
Before starting acupuncture treatment the acupuncturists will examine you and take a detailed history. He or she will make a diagnosis - and then choose the acupuncture points for treatment.
The needles used for acupuncture are very thin and when the needle is inserted you will feel a slight sting or prick. After the needle is inserted, you should not feel any pain. During the treatment you should feel comfortable and relaxed. Your acupuncturist can guide you regarding the number of treatments you need and how often you should come for them. Your acupuncturist may recommend use of herbs along with acupuncture.
How does acupuncture work?
According to acupuncture theories--- an illness is caused by a disruption of Qi, or the flow of energy in the body. This leads to an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture by stimulation of the energy that flows along the meridians, or energy-carrying channels can correct this energy disruption and help the body to heal.
According to one theory stimulation of acupuncture points transmits messages to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This stimulates the brain and the spinal cord to release endorphins (naturally produced pain killers) and other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses). These chemicals block the pain signals from being delivered to the brain and decrease or eliminate painful sensations. However the exact way in which acupuncture helps to relieve pain is not known. But for people who experience pain relief after acupuncture the exact way in which it works does not matter.
Does Acupuncture relieve pain?
Several studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving several types of pain like joint pain due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and even back pain.
In a Swedish study patients with chronic low back pain, after acupuncture experienced long term pain relief. Besides the pain acupuncture was effective in improving their activity levels, sleep, and significantly decreased the need for analgesics.
In another review of medical literature for all studies involving acupuncture for treating low back pain significant benefit of acupuncture was noted in people with chronic back pain. The study noted that acupuncture resulted in both in the short-term (defined as three weeks after the last acupuncture treatment) as well as in the longer term benefits. However according to some experts more evidence is need to confirm the definite effect of acupuncture in providing back pain relief in the short-term, and longer term.
Acupuncture is a low-risk, safe and effective procedure when performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner. Acupuncture can be of help in people with chronic back pain. As it lacks the side effects of prescription medicine many people opt for it.
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