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Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are significant and effective treatments for all types of pain. Low back pain is the most common type of pain people experience according to the National Institute of Health. Up to 80 percent of Americans will experience it during their lifetime.
Many clinical studies have shown that acupuncture plays an important role in the reduction and elimination of back pain thus lowering the need for painkillers or other medications that can cause unwanted side-effects. The insertion of the thin needles stimulates the body to produce natural steroids that decrease inflammation and stimulate beta-endorphins, which kill pain. Both natural steroids and beta-endorphins are key factors in breaking the pain cycle.
Additionally, acupuncture along with Chinese medical massage known as tui na can help break up thickened tissue that constricts the movement of the muscles and joints.
Chinese Medical Theory and the Treatment of Back Pain
Our muscles and connective tissue, which include tendons, ligaments, and fascia comprise the soft tissue of the body. These tissues along with our bones make up a full 75% of our body’s mass, making the musculoskeletal system the largest system in the body. Being the largest, it uses most of the body’s energy resources and for it to function well, all other systems must be functioning well. For instance, if the circulatory system, which brings nutrition to our tissues and removes the waste by-products of energy metabolism, is not in good shape, a person will most likely experience pain or some other sort of dysfunction such as numbness.
The beauty of Chinese medical modalities is that the body is viewed as an integrated system, not a group of isolated parts. Therefore, when treating one system, the other bodily systems will also be addressed.
While low back pain can be caused by a wide variety of factors, some form of soft tissue dysfunction will be involved. In Chinese medical theory soft tissue damage causes Qi and blood stagnation, which in turn causes the build up of heat and inflammation.
When examining a patient with low back pain, one part of Chinese medical diagnosis is to categorize the symptoms by determining whether the condition is one of
deficiency or excess?
heat or cold?
qi or blood?
yin or yang?
dry or damp?
The answers to these questions are used as part of the strategy for determining where and for how long the acupuncture needles are inserted.
The conventional Western approach to low back pain is to provide relief of symptoms, including rest, exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-killers. These strategies can be helpful, but they are often not completely effective and some produce side-effects more troublesome than the condition itself.
Acupuncture Reduces Back Pain and Improves the Quality of Life
In my clinical experience, the short and long-term effects of customized acupuncture treatments for back pain, and in particular low back pain, improve the quality of life. These effects include improved functional status, reduced inflammation and pain, enhanced mood, reduced stress and better quality sleep.
Please call Cynthia at Singing Crane Acupuncture with any questions or for further information at 503-233-2549.