Back pain and how acupuncture can help you

Back pain and how acupuncture can help you

Back pain is debilitating, it can affect anyone, and a majority of people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. It is also one of the main reasons for work-related absence.

According to NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence), back pain affects over a million people in the UK, with 95% of patients suffering from problems affecting the lower back. It is estimated that it costs the NHS and community care services more than £1 billion each year. 

In most cases lower back pain is not caused by anything serious, but is a sprain, muscle strain, minor injury, or a pinched or irritated nerve. It can also occur during pregnancy, because of stress, viral infection or a kidney infection.

How acupuncture can help?

Research has shown that acupuncture is ‘significantly better than no treatment and at least as good as (if not better than) standard medical care for back pain’ (Witt 2006; Haake 2007; Cherkin 2009; Sherman 2009a). 

It can be used in conjunction with conventional care methods, for people with more severe symptoms and/or for those who want to avoid analgesic drugs (Sherman 2009a, 2009b; Lewis 2010). 

Acupuncture may help back pain in pregnancy (Ee 2008) 

Acupuncture can also be beneficial for work-related back pain, with fewer work-days lost (Weidenhammer 2007; Sawazaki 2008). 

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture can help back pain by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues.  Acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).

Reduces inflammation - by encouraging the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).

Acupuncture improves muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by improving local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which in turn can aide the dispersal of any swelling and/or bruising.

Acupuncture reduces the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).

Acupuncture also provides a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).

Acupuncture improves the overall outcome when added to conventional treatments; such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).

Source material: British Acupuncture Association


James Barnett