How to Treat Back Pain with Acupuncture

Acupuncture close on backBack pain is one of the most common ailments for people to stay home from work and miss school.  The good news is that acupuncture is very effective at treating back pain.

Not all back pain is alike and each acupuncture treatment is tailored specifically to your experience of back pain.

These are the most important factors to consider.

1. What are the right acupuncture points?  There is not one specific acupuncture point for a given condition.  Acupuncture points are chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain.   For example, in the case of the an acute muscle spasm, the acupuncture needles are placed around the spasm in a back.  Other times, it is best to used acupuncture points located at the painful areas.  This is often true for sciatica pain.  Sciatica is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.

2. What Type of stimulation for Electro-acupuncture?  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. How long is the treatment for you? 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, about 15-20 minutes.  For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a slightly longer period of time, 30-35 minutes.

4.  What stretches and exercises should you do? Back stretches are very important to reduce pain and increase mobility which prevents it from returning.  During an acute spasm more gently movements should be used.  As you are recovering back stretches and exercises to strengthen are important.

5. Should we do Tui na, Chinese medical massage or cupping?   These are very effective techniques in addition to the acupuncture for back pain which all help to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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