Dr. Karen Achtermann is trained in Acupuncture for Stress Relief, Immune System boosting, and Musculoskeletal pain in your back, neck, knees, shoulders, and other joints. Each session is $55.00. Some insurance plans cover Acupuncture as well. Some patients like to get an acupuncture session after their adjustment.
Back pain (especially lower back pain) is a common chronic pain issue. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that has become a popular and well-researched method for managing this pain.
Acupuncture is a traditional therapy based on the idea of energetics in the body.
Treatment consists of inserting needles at various pressure points on the body and through the skin. Needles are not meant to cause pain, harm, or discomfort. The acupuncturist will target energy (or “qi” in Chinese medicine) points for treatment. These are also called meridians, with some being of special benefit to painful nerves and muscles in the back.
There are a few qi meridians that an acupuncturist may focus on for back pain.
Some acupuncture points for low back pain are:
- back of the knees points
- foot points
- lower back points
- hand points
- hip points
- stomach points
Points for upper back pain (also called thoracic back pain) are usually different. These are found on the head, neck, shoulders, and upper back.
By stimulating these points, parts of the nervous system are also stimulated to relieve pain. Acupuncture can also provide pain relief from other similar neuromuscular issues for which there may not be too many pain remedy options.
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Post-surgery recovery
- TMJ (jaw pain)
Here are a few ways by which acupuncture works for back pain:
- Stimulates nervous system. Trigger points stimulated by acupuncture could release chemicals from the spinal cord, muscles, and brain. Some of these are naturally pain-relieving.
- Releases opioid-like chemicals produced in the body. Along the same lines as the theory above, acupuncture may release pain-relieving chemicals. These naturally occur in the body and have similar properties to opioid pain relievers. (Hydrocodone or morphine are examples.)
- Releases neurotransmitters. These are hormones that send messages regulating the on/off mechanisms of various nerve endings. Acupuncture may stimulate some that shut off pain.
- Triggers electromagnetic impulses in the body. These impulses can help speed the body’s way of handling pain, including the release of endorphins.
Scientific trials on acupuncture for treating back pain show great results with very little risk of side effects.
Some research in 2012 involved reviewing almost 20,000 people with chronic pain. They were given authentic acupuncture treatments, fake treatments, or no acupuncture at all. Those who received real acupuncture experienced 50 percent improvement in their chronic pain issues.
Two similar reviews from 2013 showed strong favor for acupuncture as successful therapy. These were specifically for chronic lower back pain. One of these studies expressed promise that acupuncture could be better than most pain medications. The other study revealed that success depends on certain limitations to how therapy is administered.
Acupuncture is a safe procedure and therapy when you see a professional certified acupuncturist.
However, keep in mind that one acupuncture treatment does not provide a cure for back pain. While relief is reportedly successful, it’s likely you’ll need multiple visits to see results. Acupuncture commonly takes numerous treatments over time for the best outcome.
Most people may invest in a weekly session until they experience improvement. Afterward, they start scheduling sessions further apart, such as every other week, then monthly.
Acupuncture can be a successful go-to therapy for chronic back pain. It can apply to either lower or upper back pain.
Research shows that it could be helpful for many people. It could even be better for back pain than certain medications.
The efficacy of acupuncture is backed by research, and a qualified, well-trained professional, can provide safe treatment.
Still, acupuncture may not be for everyone. Talk with your doctor and acupuncturist about whether acupuncture is right for you.