Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

This article looks at acupuncture and low back pain - specifically what happens when you have acupuncture, where the needles are placed, how many treatments are needed and other relevant information.

Author, Matthew Scott, was an acupuncturist in Australia for ten years.

It was his personal experience with acupuncture and back pain that led him to formally study acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Matthew injured his lower back while working and after trying conventional low back pain treatments, like physiotherapy, as well as chiropractic and massage, he was recommended to try acupuncture. The results were quick and lasting.

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain - What Happens?

In cases involving acupuncture and back pain - whether it's upper or lower back pain - you will be required to lie face down on the treatment table. You will most likely be asked to remove your shirt so the acupuncturist has full access to your back. A traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis will have first been done, so that the acupuncturist knows precisely where to place the needles, how many to use and how long to leave them in place. Also before needling, massage may be used to relax your back muscles and to encourage blood circulation in the area.

Acupuncture Body Points

There are hundreds of acupuncture body points - when you have acupuncture for low back pain you will most definitely be needled in your lower back area, especially at the points of most pain and at lower back points known to treat pain in this area. Acupuncture points along the backs of your legs and on your feet may be used too as these are also known to have a therapeutic effect on the lower back. Up to a dozen needles may be gently inserted and retained for 20-30 minutes.

An electro-acupuncture device may be connected to some of the needles as this method is known to be very effective in relieving pain, especially intense pain and muscle spasms in the lower back. Once the needles are in place all you have to do is lie there and relax - a feeling of relaxation and even falling asleep is a common acupuncture experience. And if you're wondering or worried that acupuncture may hurt, the pain you experience from your lower back injury will most likely be far greater than the sensations you'll feel from the acupuncture needles.

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain - How Many Treatments are Needed?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - of which acupuncture is a part - everyone is regarded as a unique individual. No two people with the same complaint will receive exactly the same treatment. TCM and acupuncture treatments are tailored specifically to your particular complaint, your body type and other factors unique to you. Generally speaking, acute low back pain may require only 2 or 3 treatments, where as chronic low back pain may need 5, 10 or more treatments. To find out exactly you will need to consult a trained acupuncturist, who will need to first do a Chinese medicine diagnosis before being able to accurately tell you.

Once the acupuncture needles have been removed the acupuncturist may rub some pain-relieving Chinese herbal liniment into your lower back muscles and he/she may show you some specific exercises to help relieve pain and stiffness and strengthen your lower back. In Western countries acupuncture treatments are normally scheduled for 1-3 times a week, although in cases of severe pain you may require daily treatment for several days.

More on acupuncture and exercises for low back pain:

Acupuncture FAQ
Exercises for Low Back Pain

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