Back Pain And Sciatica
Back pain can affect anyone at any age and is a leading cause of pain and disability in the community. It is one of the main reasons for work related illness and absence. It is also the most common problem I see in my clinic.
Possible causes of back pain
A lot of back pain is caused by sprains, muscle strains, minor injuries, or a pinched or irritated nerve. In some cases there may be damage to vertebral discs for example prolapsed disc or so called “slipped disc” which can be extremely painful. Sometimes there may be pain referred down into the leg or foot i.e. Sciatica.
How does acupuncture work for back pain?
* Pain relief by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues there is a release of endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord, particularly relevant in chronic pain as there is a “pain cycle” involved
* Reduction of inflammation by promoting the release of vascular and immune-modulator factors
* Improves muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation which disperses swelling and reduces bruising
* Relaxation of tight muscles and muscle spasms, which can be the underlying reason for back pain
What treatment works best?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been shown to be as effective as other therapy such as chiropractic or physio therapy; in fact many of those practitioners use a modified form of acupuncture or “dry needling” to treat back pain. However they are not as well trained in this form of treatment when compared to acupuncturists.
Advantages of treatment using Chinese Medicine
* Very effective in reducing back pain and sciatic pain, particularly by combining; acupuncture, cupping, and Tui Na within a treatment session.
* Free of side effects( in most cases)
* Analgesic medication can be reduced or eliminated
* Is particularly safe for older patients who cannot tolerate chiropractic adjustments or more aggressive forms of physical therapy
* In younger patients, a more gentle approach can be used by using; acupressure, laser acupuncture, and Tui Na treatments
Back treatments may vary from patient to patient depending on the problem. I would suggest at least weekly treatments until there is good pain relief. Maintenance treatment after this may help prevent future problems.