Is Acupuncture Effective In Treating Chronic Back Pain?

acupuncture_back pain

If you work in a 9 to 5 desk job, chances are you have suffered from back pain at some point. Statistically speaking, 8 out 0f 10 people suffer from back pain at least once in their lifetime and take medications for the same. Due to our sedentary lifestyle and desk jobs, the back pain is usually chronic in nature, which means the pain persists for more than 3 months. Taking medications for such long duration is not something most of us are comfortable with and more often than we not we turn towards alternative therapy like acupuncture for back pain to find relief. But is acupuncture for back pain really effective in treating back pain? Let’s find out.

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing method which can be traced back to at least 2500 years. Based on the principle of ‘Qi’, the general theory being that there are channels of energy that flow through our body. Disruption in these channels of energy leads to diseases.
Acupuncture sought to correct this disruption by insertion of needles along these channels called meridians and attracting the qi towards itself. Fine sterile needles are inserted into the skin and various stimulus like heat, electrical stimulation and pressure are applied to stimulate specific anatomic points called acupoints.
This removes any block in the channels and invokes body’s natural response to heal itself through various physiological systems.

Acupuncture Points to treat back pain:
According to ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture helps in encouraging the flow of energy ‘Qi’ throughout the body. However, according to western medicine, it helps by releasing muscle tension and feel good factors called endorphins that are responsible for relieving the pain. Some of the acupuncture points that are instrumental in easing back pain are as follows:
Stomach point: This point is situated two fingers below your navel. Stimulating this point strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps in relieving back pain.
Lower back point: This point is situated on your back right below your ribs. Acupuncture at this point helps in releasing endorphins that help in getting rid of back pain.
Hipbone points: This point is located on both sides of your tailbone. These points help in relieving stress and pain from your back and hips as well as are helpful in sciatica.
Knee Back Points: Applying acupuncture at the back of your knees will help you get rid of stiffness from back and hips. These are the commanding points of your body and play a vital role in your acupuncture therapy.
Hand points: Hand points are located your thumb and index finger. Acupuncture at these points is directly connected with relieving stress and strain from your back.

Is acupuncture effective to treat back pain?
Acupuncture is a safe and effective way of treating chronic back pain when administered by a trained and experienced acupuncturist. Being a part of traditional Chinese medicine for 2500 years, various clinical studies have confirmed the efficacy of acupuncture in chronic back pain. However, you should always talk to your doctor before taking acupuncture therapy.

When is acupuncture for back pain contraindicated?
Acupuncture is absolutely contraindicated in following conditions:
Bleeding disorders: Patients with bleeding disorders like haemophilia should refrain from getting acupuncture therapy. If the acupuncture needle accidentally pricks a blood vessel, it would lead to major blood loss.
Pregnant women: Acupuncture of certain points may lead to an early delivery. Hence, acupuncture should be completely avoided during pregnancy.
Pacemaker: Certain acupuncturist employs electrical impulses to relieve pain. Electroacupuncture is strongly contraindicated in patients with a pacemaker.
Immunocompromised patients: Patients suffering from cancer, AIDS or those who are diabetic shouldn’t opt for acupuncture.

Is acupuncture for back pain safe?
Yes, acupuncture is perfectly safe when practised by a trained acupuncturist. When done using clean and sterile single-use needles, it has next to no side effects.
Side effects that can happen are minor. This includes mild pain when needles are inserted, however, this pain does not last long once the needles are inserted. Rarely, the first session of acupuncture is followed by nausea, vomiting and headache.
Acupuncture is safe. You just need to ensure that your practitioner is using sterile needles to avoid infections like HIV and hepatitis.

What are the common causes of back pain?
Our lower back is the main weight bearing area of our body and responsible for movements of our trunk like twisting and bending. This makes it highly susceptible to stress which leads to pain.
Working 6 days a week we also tend to overwork ourselves over the weekend, working tirelessly at the house trying to finish up home projects in 2 days. This strains our back causing inflammation and injury.
Sitting all day at a desk is also detrimental to our back. While we are sitting our back supports the weight of our body and is the main stress bearing area. This subjects it to long hours of pressure which ultimately leads to back pain.
Our posture is also is also responsible for the health of our back. A straight spine is the strongest spine. Walking with a hunch only puts our back through more stress.

What are the risk factors associated with back pain?
Back pain is quite prevalent in our society, so much so that it can strike anyone. Yet there are some risk factors which make us more susceptible to developing this pain.
Aging: As we age our body goes through wear and tear that produces back pain. This means that as our age increases, we are at a higher risk of getting back pain.
Occupational hazard: People involved in occupations that require heavy lifting and frequent bending are more prone to get back pains like construction workers and nurses.
Sedentary lifestyle: Just like overworking our body is detrimental to our back, similarly leading a sedentary lifestyle also increases our risk of back pain. Regular exercise is recommended to have a healthy back.
Obesity: Excessive weight puts a strain on our back and manifests as backaches.

Bottom line:
Acupuncture is an effective therapy to treat backache, however, it should not be used as a last resort when all other therapies have failed. Consult your doctor before opting for a session of acupuncture to know if it’s safe for you. When done early, acupuncture can treat your back ache from the root and give you relief for the lifetime.

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