I have been using acupuncture to treat a lot of low back pain lately. Acute “threw my back out” type of pain, chronic daily achiness type of pain, sciatic pain shooting down my legs and “when I move this way I get stuck” type of pain.
Low back pain affects millions of people each year and is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. The most common Western Medicine treatment for low back pain is to prescribe pain medication and perhaps a course of physical therapy. Many of my patients went this route and found that they still had pain and their physical activity was still limited. They came in for acupuncture because they wanted to live a pain-free, medication-free life. Who doesn’t?
Acupuncture is effective for back pain due to disk herniation, sprained/strained muscles, arthritis, failed back surgery and other causes. Research has shown acupuncture to be more effective than NSAIDs in relieving pain. A meta-analysis (fancy word for systematic review of high quality research trials) published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found acupuncture was found effective for reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis, chronic headache, shoulder pain, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and back pain (Vickers AJ, Linde K. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain. JAMA. 2014;311(9):955-956. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285478).
What I find in my clinic is that acupuncture provides lasting results. Patients typically leave in much less pain than when they arrived. For the first time they feel hope. Hope that they can get back to doing what they love, hope that they can sleep through the night without pain, hope that they can crawl around on the floor with their kids/grandkids, hope that they can just get back to feeling like themselves again. That pain relief? It’s real. However acupuncture is not magic; it is medicine. Just like antibiotics or physical therapy there is a course of treatment that should be followed. Acupuncture gently moves your body back into a state of balance. With treatment, I find that patients’ hopes become reality.
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