Lower back pain is a common problem. It is one of the leading causes of adult disability in the United States, affecting as many as 13% of people between 20 and 69 years old.
Lower back pain is also one of the most common reasons why people come for acupuncture treatment. So, how does acupuncture work for lower back pain? Let’s take a look.
An Acupuncturist’s View of Lower Back Pain
Before answer the question of “how does acupuncture work for lower back pain?” let’s look at lower back pain from an acupuncturist’s point of view.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) terms, lower back pain can occur for one of two reasons. Firstly, it may be a result of qi or blood stagnation in the local area. This means that these vital substances cannot flow as freely as they should, and end up collecting in one region of the body.
This causes pain wherever the stagnation is. Pain due to qi stagnation tends to be aching in nature and comes and goes. It may be relieved by heat or gentle massage. Pain due to blood stagnation, on the other hand, is more severe or sharp in nature. It is constant and fixed in one area of the body. It cannot be relieved by pressure or heat and, in fact, these things may make it worse.
The second cause of lower back pain in TCM is a weaknessof the Kidney organ. In TCM, the Kidneys have quite different functions from the kidneys in western medicine, and so this diagnosis is not necessarily a reason to panic. The Kidneys can be strengthened with a combination of acupuncture, diet, and exercise, combined with herbal medicine if necessary.
How Does Acupuncture Work for Lower Back Pain?
Whether your pain is in your lower back, your knee, or your big toe, acupuncture may be able to help. In TCM terms, acupuncture helps lower back pain by promoting the circulation of qi and blood to relieve stagnation. It can also help to nourish the Kidneys if they are the underlying reason for the pain.
From a scientific perspective, acupuncture works for lower back pain in several ways. Firstly, it helps to relax tight muscles and relieve tension, both common issues associated with bad posture and sitting for long periods every day.
Secondly, acupuncture releases chemicals called endorphins. These are your body’s natural painkillers and they work in a similar way to morphine. Endorphins are normally released when you are injured or under extreme physical stress. However, acupuncture triggers endorphin release in a way that causes minimal trauma to the surrounding area. You may feel some unusual sensations during your acupuncture treatment such as tingling or a dull ache, but it should be a pleasant rather than painful experience.
Acupuncture also improves local circulation. It speeds up the rate that beneficial, healing chemicals can reach the area and the rate that toxins are removed. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and changes the way that the brain interprets pain signals to effectively relieve discomfort.
So, whether you look at it from a TCM or western point of view, acupuncture is a fantastic treatment for lower back pain. If you are suffering from this common complaint, why not give it a try for yourself?