Posts Tagged ‘back pain’
Nov 7, 2013
Acupuncture is very effective at treating depression without medications or side effects. Recently, a new study shows that acupuncture treatment for depression not only works quickly but also has long lasting results.
In this study, 755 patients were given acupuncture, psychological counseling, or standard care which is depression medications. After only 3 months with an average of 10 visits, the depression levels in the acupuncture group were significantly less than in the group that took medications. This reduction in depression was not only fast but it remained constant at a 1 year follow up from the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture for Depression
Acupuncture treatment for depression does not just focus on relieving the symptoms but also improving the health of your body overall. This is because acupuncture does not focus on one single symptom but takes the whole person into consideration, both mentally and physically. Each treatment plan is individualized to your particularly health concerns.
Interestingly, in this study the acupuncture patients also had a reduction in pain. In my acupuncture office many people who come in with physical complaints like back pain find their anxiety and depression are also improved after the treatment.
There are strong neurological and hormonal effects of acupuncture. We know a lot about how acupuncture works to reduce pain. Acupuncture helps to regulate the nervous system, stimulating the release of the body’s natural pain relievers, as well as regulating pain relieving receptors. Acupuncture also has an anti-inflammatory effect reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones. It is probably that these same pathways help to reduce depression. This is particularly important now that we have a much more clear understanding of the connection between inflammation and depression.
Jun 19, 2013
I used to have back pain and back spasms on a regular basis. Thanks to acupuncture and tai ji practice I have not had a back spasm in years.
Until last week.
A lot has been going on recently with me, moving into our new New York acupuncture office, we remodeled our apartment, and we have a little one on the way. I’ve had a lot on my mind. Also the New York weather has been humid which tightens my back muscles.
When my back seized up, the pain was mostly on the right side of my lumbar. My lower back was so tight I could not stand straight and the pain was intense in my lumbar and sacrum. I could barely get up from sitting.
Luckily, I have treated many back spasms with acupuncture, massage, and stretching. I was able to control the back spasm pain within the first day and get over the spasm entirely in 3 days.
The combination I use was effective. Here is how I did it without any pain medications.
1. Acupuncture: As an acupuncturist, I see back pain and back spasms all the time. The acupuncture helps to reduce the pain and relax the muscles. Just as I would with my patients I looked for the ashi acupuncture points (translated as “ouch” acupuncture points). These are areas that the muscle is very tender to touch. By needling them we can relax the muscles. After the first acupuncture treatment, my back started to loosen up and the pain was greatly reduced. I would give myself daily acupuncture for 3 days.
2. Stretching: Back stretches are essential to keeping a healthy back. But as I got busier I neglected my regular stretching routine. Simple stretches are invaluable for back pain. Stretches such as knees to the chest, soft back twists, and hamstring stretches help significantly. It’s also important to pay attention to your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can often lead to back pain.
3. Go for a walk: It is important to keep moving when you have back pain. Many people want to stop exercising when you have a back spasm. Don’t. It is helpful to keep yourself moving and limber. Short walks help to loosen your back and are relaxing. Slowly extend the walk and push yourself a little bit more. As you have less pain and spasm you can return to your normal exercise routine.
4. Sleeping position: The best position to sleep in is either lying on your back with knees elevated or lying on the side with a pillow in between your knees. Both of these positions relieve pressure on the back and allows the muscles to relax and return to normal.
Jul 24, 2012
The process of treating back pain with acupuncture, or any pain for that matter, is complex. As an acupuncturist, we have many factors to consider in the treatment.
Important factors for the acupuncturist to decide are what acupuncture points to use, how long the needles stay in, what position the patient should lie, the use of electro-acupuncture, additional use of cups, and other factors.
Acupuncture points can be chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain. Some pain, such as pain from sciatica, is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.
2. Use of electroacupuncture is very helpful for many types of back pain. This technique enhances the relaxation of muscles as well as helps to reducing inflammation and pain. In addition, electroacupuncture may be helpful in stimulating the growth of muscle tissue and therefore can be helpful for balancing the muscle weakness.
3. The length of the acupuncture treatment can also vary. If there is an acute back spasm, it is better to have a shorter acupuncture treatment. For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a slightly longer period of time.
4. The patient needs to be comfortable during the acupuncture session. Some positions, such as lying face down, will put stress on the back. These patients will often benefit from treatment lying on their side or back and use distal acupuncture points on the most powerful acupuncture channels.
5. Cupping is an effective additional technique to acupuncture for back pain. It helps to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area.
Jun 11, 2012
After suffering for months from horrible, nagging sinus headaches, further complicated by the cumulative stress from caring for my 17-month-old child, I chose to give acupuncture a try. It has been one of the best health decisions that I have made for myself. When I was first diagnosed with sinusitis many months ago, I was prescribed antibiotics and other medication, which did help me recover from the terrible cold and relieve my sinus symptoms. However, since then, every time the weather changed, I was completely debilitated by a horrible sinus headache. I was afraid of future never-ending cycles of antibiotics (or even Tylenol), but caring for my child required me to be functional at full capacity. I was very afraid of the horrendous sinus pain, and was desperate for long-term relief. I did a lot of research and came across acupuncture, including articles that Joe Alban has published online on this topic. I decided to give acupuncture a try, as my doctor has told me acupuncture is a safe alternative from western medicine (i.e., no harm in trying).
Joe is not only very skilled in his techniques (I have never suffered any bruise; I could barely feel the needles), he is very informative and has educated me a great deal about acupuncture. The treatment room is clean and comfortable. Most importantly, after 6 or 7 treatments, I am already feeling drastic improvements of my condition. It is very encouraging for me to know that my body can be restored in a holistic manner, and it is capable to repairing itself. I am very happy to report that my sinus headache, even though it is still present from time to time (as I am not completely through with my treatment), has now become very manageable. Without the sinus pain, I am again able to engage in other activities (such as pilates) which more directly help me reduce stress and improve physical back pain. I am also able to enjoy the outdoor again with my child without the fear of feeling sick simply because the weather changes. I thank Joe and acupuncture for setting me back into a positive health cycle. I highly recommend Joe’s practice to anyone interested.
Mar 5, 2012
This is one of the top five common questions in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
Acupuncture does not hurt. We use very thin sterile solid needles which means they do not feel like a doctor’s needle. Upon insertion, some points can feel a prick, but many do not feel anything. The acupuncture needles remain in the acupuncture points for 20-30 minutes. Patients can feel numbness, tingling, warmth, heaviness, or movement at the acupuncture point. All of these feelings are good. At some acupuncture points the muscles will twitch. This is particularly true when using acupuncture points such as GB 30 for treating acupuncture for sciatica and acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Acupuncture is very relaxing and people will often fall asleep while lying on the massage table.
Traditionally, acupuncturists have called the feeling of acupuncture as “de qi.” The has been translated as “getting the qi” which means the acupuncture points has been adequately stimulated. In China, patients will tell their acupuncture doctors “zhong” which means heaviness, when the acupuncture point has been adequately stimulated.
Feb 29, 2012
Patients in my New York Acupuncture clinic are always curious how acupuncturists choose the correct acupuncture points. There are a number of ways to choose the acupuncture points.
The basic idea with acupuncture is to correct the underlying imbalance in the body. This can help to stimulate the body to heal itself. We acupuncturists will determine the imbalance by our examination. For example, if there is lack of circulation of the energy, what we call qi stagnation, we’ll choose points to move the qi. A common combination for moving the qi is Liv 3 and LI 4.
I find that acupuncture is most effective by changing the focus of the treatment overtime. At first, we may focus on releasing tension in the muscles, this is called moving qi and blood stagnation. But over time it may become more important to focus on boosting up the qi to support the overall health. This is often true in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis.
There are also points which are chosen based on the location of the illness. Pain on the urinary bladder channel ,which travels up the back, can be treated with acupuncture points on the urinary bladder channel located on the legs such as UB 40 or UB 60. These points can help with the treatment of chronic pelvic pain syndrome, chronic low back pain, and sciatica.
Acupuncturists will also search out for specifically painful areas at the location of the pain. In Chinese these are called ashi points. In English this means “ouch points.” Often, they may be referred to as trigger points in the West. Acupuncture will help to release these areas of pain to relax the muscle, increase circulation, and reduce pain. Trigger points are very important in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Acupuncturists also may use a specific point because we know that it is clinically effective. For example, using PC 6 acupuncture point for nausea has been shown time and time again to reduce many types of nausea. Because we know this works through clinical experience, we call this an empirical point.
Every acupuncturist has their own style. We develop these through training, our personal interests, and clinical experience.
Jan 9, 2012
The Meaning of Zhen Jiu ( 针灸)
Acupuncture is not just acupuncture. In fact, the word for acupuncture in Chinese, Zhen Jiu, actually translates to “acupuncture and moxibustion” which shows how central moxibustion is within acupuncture.
Moxibustion is the warming of acupuncture points or needles. Most often, this is done through burning an herb called mugwort. It can also be done with heat lamps as well as herbal lotions.
In my office, we use smokeless moxibustion because it is treated and does not create much smoke.
How does Moxibustion work?
Just like with acupuncture, moxibustion focuses on correcting the underlying imbalance in the body.
Because it is warming, generally moxibustion is used when there is cold in the body. Moxibustion can help to warm the body and add qi as well. The warmth also helps to increase circulation.
Boosting the Qi
There is a tradition that one can use moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 for 100 consecutive days in order to boost the body’s qi. I think this therapy is particularly effective for those with poor digestion or asthma due to low energy.
Jan 5, 2012
Winter is here. It comes as no surprise that the cold and damp weather means achy and painful joints and an exacerbation of arthritis.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have understood this seasonal phenomena for thousands of years. According to acupuncture, cold and damp can become stuck in the joints disrupting the normal function and circulation which leads to pain.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work to warm the body and increase circulation leading to a decrease in pain. Warming the acupuncture points and acupuncture channels helps to dislodge the cold.
How can acupuncture warm the joints?
In the west, most people think of acupuncture as the use of acupuncture needles with acupuncture points. But really, acupuncture therapy encompasses much more.
In Chinese, acupuncture is not just acupuncture. Acupuncture is called 针灸 (pronounced Zhen Jiu). This translates to acupuncture and moxibustion.
Moxibustion refers to the warming of the acupuncture needles or acupuncture points. Most often it is done with the burning of an herb called mugwort. It can also be done with a heat lamp or warming herbal extracts rubbed onto acupuncture points or the affected muscle.
By warming the acupuncture points and acupuncture needles with moxibustion, we can stimulated improved circulation and pain relief.
What can you treat with Acupuncture and Moxibustion?
Moxibustion is very effective for treating many conditions causes by cold. During the winter in particular, I use it for back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis, knee pain, and joint pain. For some women, it is very effective for menstrual cramps.
In our New York Acupuncture office, we use smokeless moxibustion. The herb mugwort is treated in order that when it is used it does not create much smoke when used.
Dec 22, 2011
It’s that time of year again. Resolution time.
Are you going to get in shape? Eat healthier? Take care of that chronic back pain?
New years is a natural time to think about the future. That’s a wonderful aspect to New Years resolutions. It gives us a natural moment to think about change.
We all know the problem with New Year’s resolutions. They’re made to be broken. So what to do?
1. It’s about change
The key to a new years resolution is not to think of it as a special occasion to make a change. You’re just ready to improve yourself, that’s it.
2. Make it small
One key way to stick with a resolution is to make it simple. Changing our habits’ isn’t easy. Start small. Do something reasonable.
A great change to make is trying to eat non-processed organic food. When my family started to eat local organic food we started slowly.
We started with only dairy, moved to meats and vegetables from there. Then we started going to the farmer’s market. Finally after a couple of years we joined a CSA.
3. Make it fit in your schedule
Biking to work is one of the best ways to stay in shape. We all have to commute anyway. By getting on your bike, you’re combining getting to work with your exercise routine. I find it to be one of the most relaxing times of the day.
Sep 15, 2011
This is the fourth article in a series focusing on acupuncture for back pain.
Car accidents, injuries, and training are not the only reason people develop back pain. Stress is also be a significant cause of back pain. Acupuncture is very effective for stress induced back pain because it can address both the physical and mental aspects of the cause of the pain.
This patient came to me with chronic back pain on the lower left side. When I asked where the pain was specifically, she pointed to the sacro iliac joint. This is a very common location for lower back pain. Stress also causes back pain by creating muscle tension and spasms.
She had back pain for a number of years and was not finding relief. Her pain was dull but persistent. While exercise made it feel better, the next day the pain was more intense. And the pain was worse with work stress.
The Acupuncture Treatment for Stress Induced Back Pain
Because of the chronic nature of the back pain and the weakness in the back muscles, this person does not have enough energy. The muscle stiffness should be relieved but also the qi of the body needs to be boosted to prevent the pain from returning.
To do this, I use less needles and more of a tonifying technique in the treatment. I also included acupressure. Focusing on points down the channels rather than at the pain helps. In this situation, I used 4 ashi, or ouch points, at the location of the pain. In addition I used UB 23, KI3, UB 40 to open up the back channel.
The acupuncture results
This patient responded remarkable well to the acupuncture. After only one treatment the pain had diminished greatly. The stiffness was much better and she was able to exercise without pain.
Gradually during the weeks that followed some pain returned. She followed up in two weeks for a second visit which provided pain relief again. Seeing that the treatments were effective but did not totally resolve the back pain, we created a maintainence schedule of coming once per month for a period of 6 months. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative and each visit can be more dramatic in effect.
After the 6 month treatment period she was mostly pain free with little back pain.
Read More about Acupuncture, Stress, and Back Pain:
- Stress, Depression, and Inflammation
- Acupuncture for Stress and Depression
- Relieve Back Pain with Acupuncture