Posts Tagged ‘chronic back pain’
Jan 9, 2012
Chronic low back pain is one of the most common reasons to go to the doctor as well as miss work. It decreases quality of life and causes people to avoid activities they would normally enjoy. Acupuncture is a very well accepted and safe method to treat chronic low back pain (1,2).
Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain
Acupuncture is over 2000 years old, and has a long track record of treating back pain. Acupuncture needles are solid, there is no medication in or on the needle. It is not anesthesia that helps to reduce the pain. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body to heal itself. It does this through relaxing the back muscles, stimulating the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals, and regulating how the brain feels pain (3).
Chinese medicine and acupuncture theorize that there are underlying imbalances in the body which leads to chronic low back pain. A successful acupuncture treatment must be tailored specifically to what is going on with your back. Acupuncture needles are placed in specific points correct imbalances that can cause back pain.
Lower back pain treatment will most often be focused on the back. Needles will also be placed in other areas to stimulate movement of the energy and increase production of the energy.
What Causes Back Pain?
According to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the two major imbalances which cause back pain are deficiency and stagnation.
An old acupuncture saying goes, “When there is no movement, there is pain. When there is movement, there is no pain.”
Stagnation is when there is not enough flow of energy through the back. Trauma, stress, or injury can cause the qi flow, or energy flow, in the body to slow down and gets stuck. When there is no flow, pain develops. Car accident, sports injury, and stress can lead to development of stagnation.
Deficiency is when there is not enough energy in body. The body needs qi, or energy, in order to function healthy. Gradual, slow, chronic onset of back pain can be a sign that there is not enough energy, or a qi deficiency.
Sometimes there is a combination of deficiency and stagnation. This can happen after a long period of time after an accident and not getting better.
Acupuncture therapy is individualized for each patient
During the initial acupuncture visit, there is generally an examination and assessment of the root cause of the back pain. The acupuncture treatment is individualized for your specific issues.
An effective acupuncture treatment may involve acupuncture and electro -acupuncture stimulation. Other therapies including acupressure or cupping are very helpful for chronic low back pain. For some people ear magnets or auricular acupuncture is very powerful for pain relief. The proper combination of these treatments leads to profound and long term pain relief.
Read More about Acupuncture for Chronic Lower Back Pain:
1. Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Eisenberg DM, et.al. The Practice of Acupuncture: Who Are the Providers and What Do They Do? Ann Fam Med 2005;3:151-158.
2. Berman BM, Langevin HM, Witt CM, Dubner R. Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain. N Engl J Med 2010; 363:454-461.
3. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
written by: Joseph Alban
Last Edited: 1/09/2012
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 27, 2011
Chronic back pain and neck pain often develops after a car accident. It can happen directly after the accident or gradually over a period of time. Sometimes, people with chronic neck and back pain just doesn’t seem to get better, no matter what they try, even if there are no findings on the x-rays and MRI tests.
Acupuncture is very effective at reducing chronic back pain after a car accident.
In acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine the concept of circulation is unique and can be the reason acupuncture works when other therapies do not.
The body is interconnected by acupuncture channels and meridians. These connect and protect the body. An injury or car accident causes a disruption in the circulation through the acupuncture meridians.
When there is Movement, There is No Pain
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have a concept called qi and blood stagnation. That means that the accident and injury has lead to lack of circulation in the meridians, as well as the muscles. This lack of circulation causes the pain.
Acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, acupressure, and cupping helps to correct this disruption has to be corrected in order for the body to heal and the pain to recede.
Please note, while acupuncture is very helpful for treating the chronic pain, it is very important to go to a physician or the emergency room after the accident.
If you have questions about acupuncture for chronic back pain, please e-mail or call us 917-887-4946 to make an appointment.
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
Sep 5, 2011
People with back pain often find relief in acupuncture after other treatments have not worked.
From a Chinese medicine and acupuncture point of view, this is because the underlying imbalance was not corrected. A successful treatment must be tailored specifically to what is going on with your back.
Physiologically, it is because acupuncture works holistically with the body, address many levels of the pain and condition. It works to relax the muscles, stimulate healing in the connective tissues, and reset the nervous system.
What are the imbalances that would need correcting?
There is an old saying in Acupuncture. “When there is no movement, there is pain. When there is movement, there is no pain.”
Qi, the body’s energy flows through the body. When the flow slows down or stops we develop what is called stagnation. When there is no flow, pain develops. Car accident, sports injury, and stress can lead to development of stagnation.
Deficiency is when there is not enough energy in body. The body needs qi, or energy, in order to function healthy. This will often happen slowly, over a long period of time the qi becomes weaker.
Acupuncture therapy is Individualized for Each Patient
The initial acupuncture visit will have an examination and assessment of what is the root cause of the back pain. After that, I will develop individualized acupuncture treatment for that person.
The skill of effective acupuncture is matching the correct treatment to the root cause of the back pain. This involves choosing the correct acupuncture points, deciding what type of stimulation to give the acupuncture needles, and if I should use electro -acupuncture stimulation.
I also include acupressure, cupping, or gua sha as supplemental therapies for back pain. For some people we may also use ear magnets or auricular acupuncture, which is very powerful for pain relief. The proper combination of these treatments leads to profound and long term pain relief.
In the next couple posts I will share three stories to illustrate how acupuncture can help back pain. The first is a patient who had chronic back pain after a car accident, the second is a marathon runner who developed back pain while training, and the third is a woman with chronic back pain that gets much worse during periods of stress.
Sep 28, 2010
Today I am continuing my series on back pain, sharing the best acupuncture and acupressure points.
A natural reaction to back pain is to rub where it hurts. This can often temporarily relieve the pain. Most people use their fist. Some people will roll on a tennis ball. You should also massage these acupressure points to help relieve chronic and acute pain.
Small Intestine 3 (SI 3)
SI 3 is a very effective acupuncture and acupressure point for back pain. It is effective for acute back pain, but also can be massaged regularly for chronic back pain. SI 3 is located on the outside of the hand, directly next to the base of the pinkie. You can rub this point very strongly if the pain is very severe. This is one of the best acupuncture points for back pain.
Kidney 3 (KI 3)
KI 3 is a very strong and effective point for back pain. It is better for chronic back pain than acute back pain. KI 3 is located just behind the inside ankle bone. Massage this point everyday is a in order to warm the kidney channel and alleviate back pain.
KI 3 is a very important and widely used acupuncture point. I will write more on it in the next post.