Does Acupuncture Help Low Back Pain?

If you suffer from low back pain, you are sadly in the majority. In fact, over 80% of all Americans complain about low back pain either short term or chronically. Low back pain impacts both men and women equally, with most surveyed stating they have experienced symptoms as recently as the last three months.

Reasons for Low Back Pain

Sometimes low back pain is caused due to strain, such as from falling or lifting something heavy. Others feel they simply “threw their back out” after a weekend of yard or housework. Intensity of the pain can range from a constant dull ache to a sharp pain. Sometimes back pain limits function and requires the sufferer to lay down or sit to reduce the pain.

When low back pain is minimal, rest is a good option and should resolve on its own, especially with the application of ice or heat. It may last a few days, but beyond that or if it seems to be getting worse, it is best to see a medical professional. The spine, discs or nerves may be impacted and require attention. If the pain that last more than 4 weeks, it is considered chronic and steps should be taken to determine the root cause to resolve it.

Does Acupuncture Help?

I’ve got good news for you. Yes, acupuncture has been shown to reduce low back pain. In a study of nearly 18,000 patients, acupuncture was used to treat four areas of pain including shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and back / neck pain. The acupuncture outperformed the “usual care” group, which compared acupuncture treatment to taking medications or rehabilitative exercises for low back pain. In fact, acupuncture has such broad low back pain benefits that the Centers for Medicare Services has concluded that it will start reimbursing for acupuncture treatment. 

In research, acupuncture is well known for its pain-relieving benefits. It works by increase circulation, it also stimulates the release of pain relieving substances, and it relaxes muscles in the troubled area. This decreases inflammation and also stimulates the release of endorphins – your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

My Own Patient Experiences

Back pain typically responds very well to acupuncture. The nice thing about treatment is it won’t damage your digestive system or organs like over the counter pain medications. Also, it doesn’t have the addictive quality that opioid prescription medications have – important for those prone to addiction or who are concerned about long-term dependence.

Acupuncture tends to be a really great short-term and long-term strategy for back pain management, including low back pain. Patients who can also include physical exercise and, when indicated, successful weight loss strategies, tend to do the best in overcoming chronic back pain. Regardless of that, it is completely normal for patients to have pain reduction after acupuncture even after just one treatment.

Dr. Mark VanOtterloo is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He is an integrative practitioner specializing in chronic disease and women’s health, using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in a mainstream medical model.

To learn more about acupuncture as a drug free solution for back pain, whether short or long term, contact Dr. Mark VanOtterloo for an appointment or free consultation today.