Acupuncture for Back Pain

Why Chinese Acupuncture Can Work For Back Pain

If you have never had the chance to experience acupuncture, you may wonder about several different aspects about it:

• Is it safe?
• Does it work?
• How deep do the needles go into the skin?
• Does acupuncture for back pain really work?
• Does it hurt?
• How does it work?

Acupuncture is one of the ways that traditional Chinese medical doctors approach healing.  Long ago, the Chinese discovered that the body has 12 different energy meridians or lines of energy that course through the body.  Each of these energy meridians nourish an organ or different organs of the body.

If there is a blockage of energy anywhere along the 12 different meridians, then disease will result. If the blockage occurs for a long enough time in the meridian, then the organ that is supposed to be nourished with the meridian is not fed. Full-blown disease can then easily result in a matter of months.

The meridian’s flow of energy is also disrupted if there is an injury to any part of the body, and the organs that the meridians feed will eventually have a problem. Chinese acupuncturists call the flow of energy down the meridian “chi”.

How Acupuncture is Done

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into some of the 2000 different acupuncture points in the body along these 12 meridians. Acupuncturists see the body as essentially a large map of these different points.  The insertion of the needles is nothing like a vaccination shot since the needles are so fine, not much bigger than the size of a few hairs.

Some acupuncturists, such as ones in France, may focus only on points on the ear during their acupuncture session. The ear can be thought of as a mini map of points that also connect to the organs. There are 200 acupoints within and on the outside of the ear!

In Korea, points on the hand are preferred for use in acupuncture sessions.

An acupuncture session may use anywhere from 4 to 20 of these thin needles.  The needle is disposable and covered by a plastic protector that is removed after insertion. Needles are tapped into the skin only about 3 to 4 mm and may be stimulated to increase the chi flowing through the meridians.

The needles may be stimulated by any of these three methods:

  1. Electric current
  2. Sound waves
  3. Heat

When stimulated, the effects of acupuncture are accelerated. The acupuncturist may also choose not to stimulate the needles at all. The needles remain inserted in the body for 15 to 30 minutes, then are removed. They are discarded and never reused.

A series of acupuncture sessions are needed to create desired results for patients. For example, in acupuncture for back pain, five to 10 sessions may be needed.

How Effective is Acupuncture?

The World Health Organization has deemed acupuncture effective for dozens of medical conditions. One of them on the list is back pain!

The Chinese have had over 4000 years to perfect acupuncture, and now it is used for the treatment of over 200 different conditions. During acupuncture for back pain, or for any other condition, the body releases endorphins and hormones that lessen pain.

But that’s not all it does. The immune system gets revved up by acupuncture, or slowed down if it’s too active, depending on what is needed for the patient. A sluggish digestive system can be sped up if there’s constipation, and slowed down if there’s diarrhea.

During acupuncture for back pain, needles may be inserted directly into muscles that are too tight, and the needle will send a message to the central nervous system. The nervous system will respond with a relaxation response. This response combined with endorphins can result in the reduction of back pain.

In a review of 33 studies on acupuncture, doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that acupuncture did cause short-term relief of symptoms. They did not search for long-term relief. This positive result gave them the incentive to begin using acupuncture at their clinics.