Does Acupuncture Help Back Pain?
Back pain is a common problem affecting around 1 in 6 Australians. Back pain often comes on quickly and improves in about three to six weeks. However, it is common for the pain to return and for some, can become chronic (lasting for more than three months).
Chronic back pain has a significant impact on many areas of daily life, including work, recreation and social life. However, there are ways to deal with back pain and improve symptoms so that you can return to daily activities without pain.
How Does Your Back Work?
Knowing a little about how your back works can help you to understand back pain. Your back is a complex structure providing support for your legs, pelvis, arms, ribcage and skull. The spine is made up of the vertebra. These are bones stacked together forming an S-shaped column. Each vertebra is cushioned by intervertebral discs (like a firm rubber structure) which act as shock absorbers, giving your spine flexibility and are joined by facet joints. This is all held together by a mesh of connective tissue (ligaments). Movement is provided by complex layers of muscle which also provide support.
Some common causes of back pain include:
- Repetitive lifting
- Awkward movements
- Sedentary behaviour
- Poor posture
- Muscle tension
- Being overweight or obese
How Does Acupuncture Help Back Pain?
Many people who suffer from chronic back pain have found South Perth acupuncture to be helpful. Acupuncture involves inserting fine sterile needles into certain points (meridians) on your body. This improves the flow of energy (Chi or Qi) throughout the body, allowing it to heal. Some of the acupuncture points for back pain include:
- Foot points
- Hand points
- Back of the knee
- Lower back
Although it’s not fully understood how acupuncture improves back pain, there are some ways it is thought to work:
- Stimulates the nervous system – Acupuncture stimulates trigger points which may release chemicals from the spinal cord, brain and muscles that are naturally pain-relieving.
- Releases opioid-like chemicals – Similar to the theory above, acupuncture may help to release naturally occurring opioid-like chemicals similar to drugs such as morphine.
- Triggers electromagnetic impulses – These may help to speed up the body’s way of dealing with pain, including releasing endorphins.
- Neurotransmitters – Acupuncture may stimulate these hormones to shut off pain receptors.
What Does Research Say About Acupuncture?
Acupuncture shows very positive results for treating back pain with little risk of side effects. A 2012 study involved 20,000 people with chronic pain. The subjects were given real acupuncture, fake acupuncture and no acupuncture at all. Those who received the real acupuncture treatments showed a 50% improvement.
Other research has shown that acupuncture clinically relieves chronic pain, and these effects persist over time. It is mentioned that the effects shown in this research cannot be explained by the placebo effect alone. It was also stated that acupuncture is a reasonable treatment option for chronic pain sufferers.
At Integrity Physio, we perform dry needle therapy, and if you would like to learn more about dry needling in Perth, contact our helpful staff today.