Back pain is an incredibly common issue. In Upwey, Ferntree Gully, Upper Ferntree Gully and the surrounding hilly suburbs, many of us live incredibly active lifestyles. This includes lots of gardening on slopes, working on a steep incline and walking up and down hills.
All of this can take a toll on our backs if we are overdoing it or have older injuries. And it’s not just people working outdoors. In 2020 I saw a big increase in people suffering from back pain related to badly configured home working stations!
According to the World Health Organisation, “low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world”.
Acupuncture is positively effective at treating lower back pain and sciatica, according to the 2017 Acupuncture Evidence Project (PDF, 1.42MB).
How quickly can back pain respond to acupuncture?
This entirely depends on how chronic your condition is and the nature of the cause of the pain. A very chronic case of back pain relating to a much earlier injury may require ongoing sessions. A recent case of back pain with no underlying pathology may relieve in a few sessions.
I always do a thorough assessment during an initial consultation and advise what length of treatment plan is appropriate in your case.
How I treat back pain
I have worked with patients suffering from a vast array of back pain issues during my years of clinical practice. They have included people with muscular tension, pain from disc degeneration or bulging discs, sciatica, lower back pain, upper back pain, sprains and strains.
The way I treat you will depend on your individual back issue, but I often treat back pain with:
- acupuncture – often in the local pain area accompanied by points on the arms or legs
- gentle massage with palpation to work out exactly where the pain is, how it radiates, what makes it better or worse. Often I will use herbal liniment or a heatlamp to help release tension and ease pain
- cupping to release the muscles
- moxabustion (a warming topical herb)
- internal herbal medicine.
I will always give you self-care advice for back pain. This might be aimed at aiding movement and relieving pain between sessions. If loosening the back is advisable I may recommend some Qi Gong, home use of liniments, or heat.
In chronic and difficult cases I may advise a cross referral. For example, if your issue needs realignment I may cross refer with a chiropractor and if it needs strengthening I may work in tandem with a physiotherapist.
If you have chronic back issues, looking after your back on an ongoing basis is key to keeping you moving.
How does acupuncture work for back pain?
According to the British Acupuncture Council, acupuncture may help back pain by:
- providing pain relief – 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).
- reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007; Zijlstra 2003).
- improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
- reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).
- providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).
- improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).