Research Update: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain A study published in the British Medical Journal examined how acupuncture can be beneficial for low back pain. The researchers split 241 people into two groups. One group received acupuncture treatments and the other group only received conventional treatments for pain. Over the course of the two-year study, researchers found that those participants receiving acupuncture reported their pain levels were less and that they needed less medication. While the differences in pain scores were not astronomical, this study does demonstrate that the addition of acupuncture to conventional treatments for low back pain can be helpful. Statistics show that almost eight out of ten people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known that in the United States people are too sedentary, and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. Thousands of studies have proven that acupuncture, just one of the modalities used in TCM, can be very beneficial in the treatment of low back pain. Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific pressure points on the body. By invigorating these points, the brain is triggered to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. The energy within the body is also moved and adjusted. According to TCM medical theory, when the energy is blocked or weak, pain and illness can attack the body. One of the advantages of utilizing acupuncture to treat low back pain is that the acupuncturist doesn’t need to diagnose the cause of the pain before treating it. Since acupuncture has no real adverse side effects when performed by a qualified and professionally licensed practitioner, pain relief can begin the very first time a patient is treated. The treatments are very customizable because this medicine is not a “one size fits all” type of solution. This means that as the pain shifts and changes, the patient will receive customized treatments that not only address the pain and inflammation, but they also work on resolving the root of the problem. Most patients who are dealing with pain also have added stress, insomnia and depression or anxiety. Acupuncture is great at treating all of these conditions. So the patient gets more than just pain relief. Acupuncture is so effective at treating and relieving pain that it is now showing up in hospitals and emergency rooms. In fact, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota is now successfully using acupuncture in its emergency room to treat conditions ranging from low back pain to car accident injuries to kidney stones. Their initial results show that pain scores are just as low with acupuncture as they are with analgesic painkillers. Another positive action regarding the utilization of acupuncture came just recently. The Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes that plan to educate health care providers about treating pain. The new guidelines recommend that doctors get information about acupuncture and suggest it to their patients before prescribing opioids. With these kinds of recommendations and testimonials, it is hard to believe that only about ten percent of Americans have ever tried acupuncture. But that statistic is slowly changing as more and more people are seeking natural and alternative methods of dealing with low back pain. Why not check it out for yourself? Contact us and see how we can help you.
New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
Patient Help Sheet – Low Back Pain
Statistics show that almost eight out of ten people will experience low back pain at some point during their life. Seeking medical treatment for back pain is very common. Typically back pain is fleeting and can be easily resolved with rest, heat and an occasional anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. However, once the damage is done, the recurrence of back pain can be as high as 50 percent. Part of this is because as we age, things like muscles and tendons become less flexible and pliable. It is also very well known that in the United States, people are too sedentary and this leads to excess weight gain that can create added pressure on the body, especially the low back.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. But despite its age, TCM has a lot of validity to offer in the age of modern medicine. TCM provides many ways of combating low back pain. Here are just a few examples of how this ancient medical system can help.
Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce natural steroids that reduce inflammation. Acupuncture also increases the production of endorphins, which are helpful in reducing pain. In this way, acupuncture can be very helpful in preventing costly surgeries or prescription pain medication addiction. If a person seeks out acupuncture treatments when the low back pain is acute, it can potentially help them avoid chronic pain, thus decreasing the need for pain medications or surgery. Acupuncture Points for Low Back Pain:
Large Intestine 4 – This point is located bilaterally on the back side of the hand, in the webbing between the pointer finger and the thumb. When the hand is made into a fist, the point can be located in the center of the mound of flesh that is created. This point is used for relieving pain anywhere in the body. Press until it feels numb.
Gallbladder 34 – This point is found on both legs on the outer side of the lower leg. It can found in the depression that is below the bump of the bone below the outside of the knee. This point is known as the influential point of the tendons.
Urinary Bladder 40 – This point is located on both legs on the crease behind the knee, right in the center, directly behind the knee cap. This point helps relieve pain along the spine. It is helpful for relieving muscle spasms and reducing pain associated with sciatic nerve involvement, which stems from the low back.
Chinese Herbs for Low Back Pain: Herbs and combinations of herbs, known as formulas are used frequently in TCM. They can be used topically in the form of balms or salves and they can also be taken internally. One specific herb that is found frequently in low back pain formulas is Xu Duan. This herb is used because it strengthens the sinews, promoted blood circulation and alleviates pain.
Most herbal formulas have specific herbs in them that help target the areas that are affected. For instance, Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang contains herbs that target the muscles and sinews of the low back area to alleviate pain and inflammation. Nutrition for Low Back Pain: Proper nutrition is vital for everyone, but for those suffering from low back pain, it can be extra important to provide the body with the right nutrients. Fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, provide omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation. Grapes and berries contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components that inhibit enzymes responsible for pain. Hemp seeds are another great food to consume if you are suffering from low back pain. Full of anti-inflammatory properties and healthy fats, hemp seeds can decrease pain and inflammation. As you can see, Traditional Chineses Medicine is a great way to deal with low back pain. If you are experiencing this problem, give us a call to see what we can do for you. New York Sports Acupuncture
Dr. Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
888.375.5444 https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/backpain.php https://www.prpaspinesurgery.com/articles/eating-the-right-foods-to-help-with-back-pain https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27668 https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/acupressure-for-lower-back-pain https://www.hippiebutter.com/back-pain-help-use-these-9-super-foods-for-relief/ https://www.modernreflexology.com/acupressure-points-to-relieve-hip-back-pain/
Research Update: Chronic Pain
In May 2018, a team of researchers from the Acupuncture Trialists Collaboration published an update to previous chronic pain research in the Journal of Pain, the journal associated with the American Pain Society. The new article updates a study first released in 2008 that looked at acupuncture as a treatment for four chronic pain conditions. The updated study now includes data from nearly 21,000 patients. The new study confirms what was shown in the researchers’ previous work: acupuncture relieved pain and improved function when compared with sham acupuncture and not receiving any acupuncture. The researchers also showed that the effects persisted over at least a 12-month period. This study adds to the body of literature that suggests acupuncture can be a viable treatment for chronic pain, and the findings cannot be explained solely by placebo effects since they did not observe significant changes in the group that received sham acupuncture. Chronic pain affects approximately 50 million Americans or just over 20 percent of the adult population, according to a study from the Center for Disease Control released in September 2018. That statistic, when combined with the growing opioid epidemic in the United States led one of the country’s largest health-insurance providers, Blue Cross Blue Shield, to start covering acupuncture as an alternative to opioids. The change went into effect January 1, 2019. Acupuncture relieves pain by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, at the acupoints in which the needles are inserted. Licensed acupuncturists can access the specific areas of their patients’ bodies that are causing them pain by inserting needles at acupoints connected to those painful areas. Acupuncture may also help relieve pain by affecting the area of the brain that governs serotonin, a chemical in the brain involved in regulating our moods. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture meridian points activate the body’s innate healing abilities acupuncturists call Qi (chee). According to TCM, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. Qi flows through pathways called meridians and provides nourishment to the body’s cells, tissues, muscles, organs, and glands. When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, symptoms such as chronic pain may appear. If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, suffer no more! Contact a licensed acupuncturist in your area to learn how they may be able to help you find relief in an all-natural way with no risk of harmful side effects.
New York Sports Acupuncture
Bishara Wilson, DACM, L.Ac.
https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2018/9/13/cdc-50-million-americans-have-chronic-pain http://americanpainsociety.org/education/e-news/2018/may/summaries https://dailymemphian.com/article/2059/BlueCross-removes-Oxycontin-adds-acupuncture-amid-opioid-crisis