It has been estimated that nearly 80% of people will deal with low back pain in their lives. With so many people suffering from this problem, it is not surprising that lower back pain treatments such as acupuncture have become so popular. Fortunately, research shows that acupuncture is an effective treatment for all kinds of lower back pain issues.
Acupuncture vs. Traditional Treatments
Reviews of medical studies have shown that acupuncture is a viable option for treatment of back issues and it also provides sciatica pain relief. In fact, these studies indicate that acupuncture provides more effective pain relief than conventional back pain treatments. Both the American Pain Society and American College of Physicians recommend acupuncture when more traditional medical methods don’t work.
Why Acupuncture Works for Back Pain
The roots of acupuncture can be traced back over 2500 years to ancient China. The practice involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into various energetic points located all around the body. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, there are over 365 acupuncture points on the human body. A form of energy, known as Qi (pronounced chee), flows through the pathways, or meridians, that connect these points like a grid. Needles inserted into the appropriate points along these meridians help to correct imbalances or blockages of this energy, and leads to pain relief and better overall health.
On a more scientific level, some experts feel that the relief comes from stimulation of the central nervous system, triggering chemicals that release into the brain, muscles and spinal cord. It is thought by some, that these chemicals either create an overall sense of well-being within the body or that they may actually alter the way the pain is felt and/or experienced.
It is believed by others that acupuncture speeds up electromagnetic signals in the body. These signals can stimulate chemicals, such as endorphins, that reduce pain and may even affect the body’s own immune system cells. Other theories are that acupuncture releases natural opioids from the brain or that it may even change the brain’s chemistry altogether through the release of neurohormones and neurotransmitters from the brain throughout the entire body. All of these are ways in which pain is reduced.
What to Consider With Acupuncture
Acupuncture is rapidly becoming one of the most popular form of lower back pain treatments, and it interesting to note that the FDA has removed acupuncture needles from the “experimental medical devices” category and now regulates the practice of acupuncture within the United States.
Whether it’s for sciatica pain relief or other back issues, always take some things into consideration and do your research before seeking treatment. It is best to seek a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.), who is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). It is also advised to see what others have to say about any acupuncturist you might be considering.