When most people think about acupuncture two words come to mind: pain management. This is in part to three reasons:
- Pain management is normally one’s introduction to acupuncture
- 80% of acupuncture clients use it as treatment for a pain-related condition
- Acupuncture is highly effective in treating pain (That’s right, it WORKS!)
While acupuncture has been proven to help tackle a wide range of pain-related conditions, in this blog we’re going to focus on two of the most common patients we treat: those suffering from neck and/or back pain.
Did you know back and neck pain often accompany each other? In fact, even something as simple as bad posture while working too long at the computer (yes, we’re especially talking to remote workers) can leave patients regretting all of their decisions.
So, the bad news is that there are many triggers which bring about neck and back pain, whether we’re talking about an injury or pain from repetitive motion or simply the stress of everyday life.
According to WebMD, common causes of each include:
Bad posture especially when reading a phone or book
Sleeping the wrong way
Gritting your teeth
Carrying heavy objects
Sports or other injuries
Herniated disk or other condition
Lifting heavy objects
Wearing high heels
Accidents or injuries
Fractures and sprains
Disc issues: herniated, slipped, bulging
However, the good news is that acupuncture is widely recognized as a way to alleviate and help heal this pesky pain. Acupuncture is even so effective at treating and relieving pain that it is now showing up in hospitals and emergency rooms all over the country. For example, 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.
The Food and Drug Administration also 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.
So, how does acupuncture for neck and back pain work? Let’s dive right in!
When the proper acupuncture points are used, the needles can activate connective tissue, nerves and muscles, relieving pain. The needles also stimulate neurotransmitters in the patient’s brain to produce natural steroids that reduce inflammation as well as increase the production of endorphins and enkephalins, both of which are helpful in reducing pain.
The stimulation also releases other chemicals that either change how the body experiences pain or activates the body’s internal regulating system. This process has a normalizing effect on nerves and hormones. By bringing the body into better biochemical balance, acupuncture promotes physical and emotional well-being and supports the body’s natural healing abilities.
In this way, acupuncture can be very helpful in preventing costly surgeries or prescription pain medication addiction. If a person seeks acupuncture treatments when the pain is acute, it can even potentially help them avoid developing chronic pain altogether!
So, why acupuncture?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine also address the root causes of pain rather than just masking the symptoms. TCM practitioners develop treatment plans that are unique to each patient because each patient comes in with a unique body, health history and root cause behind their pain. By addressing the root causes, they create more lasting healing and bring your body back to a place where it can function optimally, using its natural healing processes to help you stay well.
In comparison to most Western medical approaches to treating neck and back pain, acupuncture is the clear winner. There are no real negative side effects associated with acupuncture treatments. There can be a bruise or a little tenderness after the treatments, but that pales in comparison to the side effects from most pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures. Even regular ingestion of ibuprofen can deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, eventually leading to ulceration (yikes!).
Let us help you along your path to wellness. Book an appointment with San Pedro Acupuncture Health Center today by clicking HERE.