Back pain is incredibly common in the United States, and can affect anyone regardless of age or activity level. Of course, intense training and heavy lifting can certainly put you at an increased risk of developing a back injury. But sometimes, simply moving the wrong way or sitting in an uncomfortable chair for too long can lead to strains and muscle knots. If a recent back injury or chronic lumbar inflammation has knocked you off your feet, you may be wondering, can acupuncture help back pain, and, if so, how?
Acupuncture can help alleviate back pain. As needles are inserted, they create localized micro-trauma, flooding surrounding tissues with blood, oxygen, and nutrients. This increase in circulation reduces pain and inflammation and speeds up the healing process.
How does acupuncture help with back pain?
Acupuncture has been proven to be an effective treatment for back pain. This non-invasive holistic therapy is a safe alternative to NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory medications, and it can drastically improve your comfort level without causing any negative side effects. But how exactly can acupuncture help back pain? Let’s take a look.
Relaxes tense muscles
Many back pain patients report feeling a sense of relief during or shortly after their acupuncture session. That’s because as each needle is inserted, it causes the muscle to twitch and then relax. If your back feels tight and stiff and you’ve lost some of your range of motion, acupuncture can help release all of that build-up tension and encourage your muscles to loosen up.
Your acupuncturist may advise you to rest following your session to give your back muscles a chance to recover. It sounds strange, but if a muscle has been cramped up for a long time, it may need a break to remember how to relax. In many cases, simply releasing tension is enough to make a significant difference in a patient’s comfort level. But soothing your muscles isn’t the only way acupuncture can help with back pain.
Acupuncture needles are very fine, so much so that when they’re inserted, you won’t feel any pain. But you will probably feel a little bit of pressure. This is the needle creating micro-trauma, minute tears in the muscle fibers, as it breaks through the skin. Although this micro-trauma increases inflammation temporarily, the injury is so tiny that it actually has a healing effect as it boosts blood flow to the surrounding tissues. Good circulation is critical to healing because it allows the body to usher oxygen and nutrients to the injury site, where they can be used to make repairs and encourage a speedy recovery.
Good blood flow nourishes injured tissues, making it easier for them to heal properly. But that increase in circulation also helps the body clear out inflammatory byproducts, which can lead to pain and swelling if they’re not removed quickly. Regular acupuncture sessions can help reduce inflammation in the days and weeks after a back injury. However, even if you’re dealing with chronic back pain, acupuncture can help alleviate persistent inflammation.
Triggers the release of endorphins
Another one of the benefits of using acupuncture to treat back pain is that it stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of endorphins. These feel-good neurotransmitters are produced by the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, and they can help modulate pain by latching onto the opioid receptors in the brain.
Acupuncture raises your endorphin levels, and in so doing, raises your pain threshold, making it easier for you to cope with discomfort without having to rely on pain medications. Many patients find that acupuncture is so effective at treating back pain, they’re able to cut out their anti-inflammatories entirely, which is a good thing because these drugs can have damaging effects on your body over time, particularly your liver.
Aids in collagen synthesis
If you suffered a back injury a long time ago, then one of the reasons why you may be experiencing pain now is because there’s some scar tissue surrounding the old injury site. Although scar tissue is a natural part of the healing process, it can be tender to the touch and lead to reduced flexibility. Fortunately, acupuncture aids in collagen synthesis, and helps your body replace scar tissue with healthy tissue. When utilized shortly after an injury, acupuncture can prevent your body from creating too much scar tissue, allowing you to regain your flexibility as your injury heals over time.
When should you get acupuncture for back pain?
There is no wrong time to get acupuncture for back pain. Whether you’re feeling some residual pain after a major back surgery, or whether you simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning, acupuncture can help you start feeling better today. Overall, acupuncture works to reduce inflammation, promote relaxation, and speed up the recovery process. In this respect, it’s a highly adaptogenic form of treatment because it works with your body, enabling it to heal itself.
What can you expect from acupuncture treatment for back pain?
It’s important to wear loose, comfortable clothing to your acupuncture session so you can move easily throughout your treatment. During your acupuncture session, your acupuncturist will perform a physical evaluation and ask about your health history to determine the best strategy for treating your pain. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to healing so you may require treatment for other muscle groups that have become overworked as a result of your back injury.
During the course of your acupuncture session, your acupuncturist may determine that other treatment methods could improve your progress. Cupping and dry needling can be used in conjunction with acupuncture to accelerate the healing process. Traditional Chinese medicine, nutrition therapy, and vitamin injections may also be recommended, depending on your situation.
Booking an acupuncture appointment
If you’re curious about acupuncture and how it can help you overcome your back pain, contact our office today to book a consultation. We will create a customized treatment protocol that is tailored to meet your unique health needs.
At Orlando Alternative Health, we strive to bring the latest in alternative medicine to our clients. We will be happy to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have as you begin your holistic healing journey.