Acupuncture is an ancient system of Chinese medicine that uses energy pathways in the body, known as meridians, to promote healing. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, acupuncture has been used to successfully treat a number of musculoskeletal problems, including back pain and neck pain, as well as migraines, insomnia and anxiety. A 2006 study conducted by the UK’s National Health Service found that acupuncture provided greater lower back pain relief than pain medication, and a 2007 study from Germany found that patients receiving acupuncture experienced back pain relief that lasted for several months.
How does acupuncture work?
To understand how acupuncture works, you must have an understanding of the principles of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture and other forms of Chinese medicine are based on the concept that the body contains a life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). This life force, or energy, flows through the body through the meridians, which correspond to organs or groups of organs. If the flow of energy becomes blocked or disrupted in any way, pain or discomfort can result along the affected meridian. When this happens, acupuncturists can stimulate the flow of qi by inserting long, thin needles at various points along the meridian. Once the needles are in place, you rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Acupuncture and back pain relief
Several different meridians travel through the lower back area. This means that acupuncture needles do not need to be inserted into the back itself to provide back pain relief. Rather, the needles can be placed at various points along these meridians to help restore the balance of qi to this area. Some acupuncture points that correspond to the lower back include the inner ankle, the back of the knee, and near the spine at hip level. Placing acupuncture needles at other points along the meridians helps avoid aggravating or over-stimulating the affected area.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Many people are hesitant to try a form of treatment that involves long needles. However, most people who have undergone acupuncture report feeling only a slight twinge or a twitch at the point of insertion. Some people do not feel the needles at all. You will most likely feel very relaxed during an acupuncture session, and may even doze off.
Finding an acupuncturist
If you are interested in trying acupuncture for back pain relief, look for a certified practitioner. Most states require anyone practicing acupuncture to carry the title of Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc). Many physicians, particularly naturopathic physicians, are also trained to perform acupuncture.
Have you ever tried Acupuncture for back pain relief? If so please share your experiences with us in the comments below.