Back pain, and often specifically low back pain, is a condition that millions of Americans try to learn to live with. Back pain can be sorted into two broad categories: acute and chronic.
Acute Back Pain
Acute back pain categorized has having a sudden onset, most often from some sort of traumatic event. Strains, sprains, muscle spasms, bone fractures and disk injuries can all fall into this category. If you are aware of the cause and the back pain is relatively mild, it is generally safe to come in for acupuncture as a first-line treatment. For more severe pain, or for relatively sudden back pain of unknown cause, it is important to first see a medical doctor or osteopath specializing in back pain or a chiropractor. They will be able to take X-Rays and perform other diagnostic tests to determine how serious your injury is. Once you receive a western diagnosis you can ask your doctor if they think seeing an acupuncturist might be helpful in relieving your back pain. Often back surgery can be avoided in cases of acute back pain. However, acupuncture can also be helpful in post-operative recovery for those people who elect to receive back surgery.
Chronic Back Pain
Chronic Back Pain is the kind of back pain that people often try to learn to live with. It is commonly categorized as back pain that has persisted for three months or longer. Although it is extremely common in America, it is important to remember that back pain is not a normal state of health- it indicates that something is not right. Chronic back pain can have both relatively benign and very serious causes. The presence of a tumor that is causing back pain is very serious indeed! Therefore it is important to understand the cause of chronic back pain with a full western medical work-up. Your general practitioner is often not an expert in back pain, and it may behoove you to seek out a specialist M.D. or D.O. who may order X-Rays, MRIs or other tests. Once you receive a western diagnosis for your back pain you can evaluate your options for treatment.
Back surgery is very popular in the United States and in some cases is treated quite casually. Back surgery can be very helpful for some people, and in some cases is necessary to prevent further damage to the spine. That said, many times back surgery is an elective procedure. For those considering elective back surgery, realize that this is an invasive operation which can have a long recovery time, can have serious complications (including paralysis, nerve damage, blood clots, erectile dysfunction, infection, and in some cases the pain can be worse than before the surgery). Consider the options before you or a loved one elects back surgery. Acupuncture has an excellent record of treating back pain and has proven over thousands of years to be an extremely safe technique. Remember, back surgery always remains an option later, after you try this low-risk, non-invasive technique. On the other hand, no one can undo a back surgery! Will you regret your back surgery later?
Acupuncture for Back Pain
Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for both chronic and acute back pain. Treatment can involve the “bladder channel” which has two branches that run down the back. Also, the “governing vessel” runs up the length of the spine. This gives acupuncture lots of specific access to the muscles, connective tissue, ribs, sacrum, and spine – all of which may be involved in back pain. Acupuncture can help break viscous cycles of poor posture, muscle guarding, knotted and cramping muscles, and low levels of activity that can lead to each other when we are in pain. Increasing blood flow, releasing tight and knotted muscles, restoring blood circulation, allowing a return to proper function and alignment are all possible through acupuncture.