I love low back pain. Not my own though- I love YOUR low back pain! More specifically, I love treating low back pain. Before you decide I’m out to lunch, hear me out- low back pain is the number one reported reason why people seek out acupuncture, and that’s because acupuncture is actually more effective at treating pain than standard (western) medical treatment without acupuncture AND with fewer and less severe side effects (Brinkhaus, Witt, Jena, & Linde, 2006), (DerSarkissian, 2006)! How cool is that?!
Low Back Pain: A Love Story
When I was attending school for my Master’s in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, we were encouraged by our professors to choose a specialty. Acupuncture being considered a more esoteric approach in this hemisphere, it attracts a more eclectic group of people who prefer to specialize in very particular woes: digestive issues, sleep problems, addiction, depression and anxiety, etc. While these issues are completely valid and prevalent, I noticed that very few people expressed interest in treating pain, which I have yet to wrap my mind around- while I treat the aforementioned list of troubles daily and enjoy it, treating pain is my favorite!
Over the course of my year long clinical stint together with my current 1.5 year long employment here at D’Vida, I have treated somewhere around 3,000 patients. Out of those 3,000ish people, I am only able to recall a handful who had no pain at all. After treating all sorts of pain, from neck pain, to migraines, to stomach pains, shoulder pain, and (literally) pain in the tip of a finger (shoutout to our chiropractor Dr. Evans), I have grown to favor one in particular- low back pain.
Low back pain is not easy to treat. There are layers upon layers of thick, strong muscles that help us with everything from high kicks to simple stabilization. They are considered to be part of our core, and assist with the engagement of our abdominal muscles. That is why we are so affected when our low back muscles act up- and man, do they love to act up. Finding out which muscle group is knotting up and wreaking havoc on the body is like a mystery- treating it is usually an investigative process, but giving the patient relief is like solving it- gratification for me AND you!
I have to warn you, it is not usually a one-and-done treatment. I typically have to see someone consistently- once or twice per week for 4-6 weeks to get results. It breaks my heart when someone comes in for only three treatments and decides it’s not working- don’t do that to me! In one study, 298 patients with chronic low back pain received 12 sessions of acupuncture over the course of 8 weeks. Due to this frequency and time allotted, acupuncture was proven to be more effective in treating low back pain than the patients who received no acupuncture treatment at all (Brinkhaus, Witt, Jena, & Linde, 2006). I do understand that some people need to take pain medications or muscle relaxers at the same time, and that’s okay! Acupuncture can actually reduce the amount and frequency of the need to take these medications, as well as lower the risk for addiction, but that’s for another blog.
But don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself! Help me help you with that troublesome back pain, I’m sure we will both feel better afterwards.
Brinkhaus, B., Witt, C., Jena, S., & Linde, K. (2006). Acupuncture in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain- A Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med, 166, 450–457. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16505266
DerSarkissian, C. (2018, February 5). Acupuncture for Back pain. Retrieved April 27, 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/back-pain-and-acupuncture
Manheimer, E., White, A., & Berman, B. (2005). Correction: Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142(11), 651–663. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-11-200506070-00021