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 include:
- What acupuncture points to use
- Length of the acupuncture treatment
- Comfortable positioning
1. How to choose acupuncture points:
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. The length of the acupuncture treatment
How long the acupuncture treatment is can also vary. If there is an acute back spasm, it is better to have a very short acupuncture treatment. For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a longer period of time.
In my experience, attention to length of the acupuncture treatment is extremely important for the treatment of pain. Research has shown that different time intervals effect the strength of pain relief.
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. It should be adjusted a few times during the treatment to make sure the patient feels the stimulation but it remains comfortable. In addition, electroacupuncture may be helpful in stimulating the growth of muscle tissue and therefore can be helpful for balancing the muscle weakness.
The patient needs to be comfortable during the acupuncture session. We will often place a pillow under the hips when treating back pain, which reduces the pressure on the lower back. If lying face down is not possible, treatment while lying on their side, and in some cases on your back, can be effective through points on the lower back as well as distal acupuncture points on the most powerful acupuncture channels.
Cupping is an effective additional technique to acupuncture for back pain. It helps to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area. For acute back spasms as well as herniated discs, wet cupping can be extremely effective.