Does Acupuncture Help Low Back Pain?

I’ve got good news for you. Yes, acupuncture has been shown to reduce low back pain. In a study of 18,000 patients, acupuncture successfully treated patients in four pain categories. The study participants had either shoulder, osteoarthritis, headache, or back pain. The treatments also outperformed the “usual care” group. Simply put, the treatments outperformed medications or rehabilitative exercises.

In research, acupuncture is well known for its pain-relieving benefit. As an example, the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) has recently concluded that medicare will start covering acupuncture treatment for chronic low back pain. Unfortunately, acupuncturists cannot bill for medicare services as a medical specialist. Hopefully, that will change one day soon. 

Why is acupuncture a good option for treating conditions? Generally, acupuncture works by increasing circulation, stimulating the release of cytokines and by relaxing muscles. As a result, this decreases inflammation and also stimulates the release of endorphins – your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Reasons for 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. Consequentially, both men and women can have discomfort equally. Back suffering is so common that a recent survey found most adults had symptoms as recently as the last three months.

For most patients the original injury is often caused by a strain from falling or lifting something heavy. As an example, “throwing out your back” after a weekend of yard or housework. The intensity can range from a constant dull ache to a sharp pain. Severe suffering can sadly result in limited function which may limit your ability to enjoy life.

When discomfort is minimal, rest is always a good option. Additionally, symptoms may reduce with the use of ice or heat. However, if the discomfort becomes worse it is best to seek medical attention. As a general rule, when discomfort lasts more than 4 weeks your condition is considered chronic. For these conditions, a good medical specialist can help you determine the root cause. Often the chronic injuries can be damage to the spine, discs, or nerves. Severe damage may heal with rest and ice packs. 

My Own Patient Experiences

Chronic back sufferers respond very positively to acupuncture. Unlike most pharmaceutical medications, acupuncture won’t damage your organs with long term use. Also, it doesn’t have the addictive quality that opioid prescription medications have. This is important for those prone to addiction or long-term dependence.

Acupuncture is a really great short-term and long-term strategy for back pain management. For short term relief, it is completely normal for patients to have pain reduction from just one treatment. For long term relief, the patients who tend to do the best complete a series of treatments and include appropriate physical exercise.

Supplement Recommendations for Chronic Pain

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.