Acupuncture for Back Pain
TREATING BACK PAIN WITH ACUPUNCTURE
Many people come to acupuncture when other back pain treatments fail, when they are concerned about taking a lot of painkillers or just can’t bear the impact on their life anymore. That’s where holistic treatment comes in as being so important.
It’s not just about the pain anymore, it’s affecting your whole quality of life, making you stressed, anxious or unable to do the things you love. Perhaps you are unable to walk the dog, exercise, socialise or look after your children?
Effective HOLISTIC Back Pain Treatment
In acupuncture we look at the WHOLE person’s health picture. Sometimes it’s a straightforward impact or injury that can be treated and will repair with direct treatment. The beauty of acupuncture is that it’s not only going to address the site of pain, but also your overall wellbeing.
From what I see in clinic, more often than not, with back pain is that there is nearly always an emotional factor involved. Yes, stress can cause back pain! I see people all the time who are crippled in back pain after working too hard, divorce, bereavement and so on. But how can this be?
In short, stress messes with our organs, often notably the kidneys and lungs. Chinese Medicine recognises that the kidneys are our ‘energy battery’ and the lungs are the ‘receiver of Qi’ (or energy). For example, overworking can create stress which ultimately leads to back pain in the lower back area when your kidneys weaken. Breathing is often overlooked; not breathing properly, when you are stressed for any reason, can create shoulder / upper back ache in the lung area.
A Patient’s Story of Upper and Lower Back Pain
While I cannot name names due to client confidentiality, my client has kindly given me permission to share her story anonymously in the hope it may help someone else. My patient first came in unable to walk without pain and with scoliosis of her spine; it was stopping her from gardening which she loved, riding her bike and even swimming was too painful. She was also exhausted.
From an in-depth diagnosis using observation, pulse and tongue diagnosis and palpation, I was able to understand the organs that the pain may be connected with and the acupuncture points and channels that run through the origination of the pain.
To reinforce my diagnosis, on questioning about her life up until this point, we worked out that she had gradually started to stoop as a teenager (she is now in her 60’s) due to deep and frequent criticism from her mother. Having spent over 40 years in a pattern of looking down and stooping, it had caused postural issues and also impacted on her lungs causing a long term cough and breathlessness. The shortness of breath had made her feel tired more quickly, so her energy was really rock bottom.
This lack of any energy was putting a strain on her kidneys which further added to her back pain – a dull ache in the lower back was present as well. The pain throughout her whole back was stopping her from doing the things she enjoyed, she was becoming depressed and isolated.
This is just one example of how back pain can be a COMBINATION of EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL issues.
In treating my patient’s kidney and lung meridians, she quickly became much happier in herself. She began to walk more upright and her energy improved. The pain in her lower back disappeared and she was able to return to her love of gardening. Being outside in the fresh air and breathing more deeply, her cough cleared up. She also found the confidence to go back to swimming.
On my advice, she found an inexpensive coaching class and found her swimming style had also caused repetitive strain in her upper shoulders and neck. She now swims daily and has made new friends, ALL of her back pain has diminished and her mental wellbeing is at an all time high.
This is true HOLISTIC treatment.
Acupuncture is not just about needles. The needles are a tool to create movement where it is needed in the body. It also involves looking at relative stress, diet, posture and exercises to work with the patient on all levels. Most patients see improvement in at least 4-6 treatments although they still choose to return for ‘maintenance’ treatments, just to check in and help prevent any further niggles or issues.
Why wouldn’t you try it as opposed to taking long term painkillers? It really is the ONLY other option – and costs less than a couple of year’s worth of prescriptions.
In 2009, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS as a cost-effective short-term treatment for the management of early, persistent non-specific lower back pain, the NHS website details the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture
The World Health Organisation states that acupuncture can help with musculoskeletal problems
Read the British Acupuncture Council fact sheet on the efficacy of acupuncture for back pain
Read evidence based acupuncture for pain and discussion on Opioid use