Can I use acupuncture for back pain relief?

Back pain is a common problem among adults. It affects millions of Americans every year.

It’s not just painful, it also limits our ability to do everyday activities such as walking, lifting heavy objects, or even sitting down comfortably.

It’s often caused by poor posture, lack of exercise, and stress.

Most people who suffer from chronic back pain will eventually seek treatment. Unfortunately, most treatments available today are not effective.

In these cases, alternative therapies can help. Acupuncture is one such therapy that has shown great promise in relieving back pain.

In fact, many patients report that acupuncture was the only thing that helped them get rid of their back pain.

This article will explain how acupuncture may help to relieve your back pain, and how you can benefit from it yourself.

How does acupuncture help with back pain?

A recent review of 22 clinical trials found that it was effective for treating chronic lower back pains and gave the patients short-term relief.

It also showed that there were greater improvements in symptoms for people who had acupuncture than for those who were given a sham treatment.

Other research has shown that sham acupuncturists can be just as good at treating pain as real ones.

Both real and sham acupuncture were more effective than standard treatments for chronic back pain.

According to guidelines from the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians, doctors should consider using traditional Chinese medicine therapies such as acupuncture as alternatives to conventional treatments for patients who suffer from chronic lower back pain that isn’t relieved by conventional methods.

How Acupuncture Appears to Help Back Pain

acupuncture pressure points on a person's back
Visual representation of Acupuncture pressure points on a person’s back

Acupuncture originated in ancient China more than 2500 years ago.

It includes inserting small needles into certain points of the body.

Traditional Chinese medical practitioners believe that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body.

They are linked together by pathways or meridians, which create a flow of energy called QI.

Sticking needles into these acupuncture points is said to correct imbalances in your QI energy and improves their flow.

It’s believed by practitioners that this relieves stress and improves health.

The effects are believed to be due to stimulation of the central nervous system.

It may cause the body to release certain chemicals into the muscles, spine, and brain.

These chemicals either change the way we feel when we’re experiencing physical discomfort or they cause us to feel better by changing our bodies’ chemistry.

Another theory suggests that acupuncture may work because:

  • It speeds up the transmission of electrical impulses through the nervous system.

    It may start the flow of pain-relieving chemical substances such as endorphins into the brain.

    Or it may trigger the release of immune system cells into the bloodstream.
  • Triggering the release of natural opioids.

    These are chemical substances in the brain that may help relieve some types of chronic or acute physical discomfort or even promote sleep.
  • Altering brain chemistry by changing the levels of neurotransmitters and Neurohormones released into the body.

    Neurotransmitters either excite or inhibit nerve impulses.

    Neurohormones play a role in the functioning or activities of organs in the body.

How quickly does acupuncture work for back pain relief?

Treatments need to be frequent enough for them to take effect.

We know you’re eager to return to your previous state. It helps to know what to expect if you’re planning to get an acupuncture treatment.

Once you’ve been treated for your back problem frequently enough, eventually your back pain will start to get better and improve over time.

You’ll be able to move better and you’ll be able to do things more easily.

As time goes by, the intensity of the discomfort will decrease and the number of times per day that you experience discomfort will go down.

When you can stand up and realize the pain is much less or gone, you start to see the effects of frequent acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture requires multiple visits for severe back pain.

If you’re taking weekly treatments, you’ll need a longer period of time to be treated.

Treating yourself twice or thrice per month means you’re essentially tripling your results. So we’re talking weeks, not months.

Frequency does affect the answer to “How Long Does It Take To Get Results?”

Acupuncture works by pushing and prodding your muscles into relaxation. It takes multiple treatments to achieve maximum results.

Many people think that one treatment will always solve their problem.

Wouldn’t you prefer to do some more treatments to fully reduce the pain?

The long-term perspective helps you get out of pain forever.

Some of the individual treatment options can provide immediate relief for certain conditions.

So if you look at this as a small process, then it will take a short time for you to be free from your back pains.

However, results are what matters most.

So, how long does it take for acupuncture to relieve your back pain?

You can see immediate short-term results from acupuncture treatment sessions.

After several visits, long-lasting relief can be seen. However, the number of visits does really matter.

You’re probably eager to stop feeling pain as quickly as possible.

Knowing the process will allow you to understand the treatments better.

Side effects of acupuncture treatment for back pain

Acupuncture has few risks if done properly by a qualified acupuncturist who uses sterile needles.

Side effects may vary from person to person. Some people experience pain, tenderness, and/or swelling at the insertion site; others don’t.

Single-use, nonreusable syringes are now the norm, so there’s virtually no chance of contracting an infection from them.

However, not everyone is a good candidate to undergo acupuncture therapy.

Before having an acupuncturist treat you, be sure to let them know if you:

  • Have a bleeding disorder.

    If you have a history of having excessive or prolonged bleeds or if you take blood-thinning medications, your chances of experiencing a bleed during acupuncture may increase.
  • Have a pacemaker.

    If acupuncture involves using electric pulses to stimulate certain points on your body, then it could possibly interfere with a pacemaker’s function.
  • Are pregnant.

    It has been suggested that some acupuncture points may be used to cause labor, which might lead to an earlier birth.

    Like any treatment or therapy, acupuncture may occasionally carry risks, but these can be minimized by the right approach.

Common side effects may include:

  • Sometimes people experience pain,
  • Nausea,
  • Infections,
  • Skin rashes,
  • Allergic reactions,
  • Bruising around where the needles were inserted,
  • Dizziness, and/or fainting when they feel the needles on their body.

Benefits of acupuncture for back pain

Because acupuncture works so well for relieving muscle and joint pain, it has been used for centuries by people from all walks of life.

Acupuncture practitioners cite the following points as their main reasons for using acupuncture specifically when treating back pain:

  • Stimulating the central nervous system by inserting special acupuncture needles into specific points is believed to cause chemical changes in the spinal cord, muscle tissue, and brain.

    These chemicals are used to treat pain.
  • Acupuncture stimulates the production of chemicals in the brain that help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Activate or release neurotransmitters – neurotransmitters communicate thoughts to the brain, shutting off the body’s reaction to painful stimuli.

    Acupuncture uses various methods to activate or release certain neurotransmit­ters.
  • Electromagnetic Impulsions Flow through the body – In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that the flow of energy through the meridian system speeds the natural processes of healing, thereby eliminating ache and discomfort.

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