Many people hear about acupuncture and are told in vague terms that it will help them, but often they need more information to decide whether it is a good idea. In addition, people seeking acupuncture to relieve lower back pain often have many questions. Let’s explore some common questions about acupuncture to help you decide if it would be beneficial to relieve lower back pain.
What are the actual benefits of acupuncture, how helpful can it be, and how does it work physiologically? Potential patients must answer all these questions before exploring it in-depth as a possible treatment for lower back pain.
How Acupuncture Can Relieve Pain
According to Dr. Claflin of Oklahoma, acupuncture is a procedure that involves a specialist inserting extremely thin needles into a person’s skin at pre-planned positions in an affected area. When an acupuncturist who is well-trained performs acupuncture, the treated individual should feel little to no pain from the needles. However, if you feel pain at any level other than a mild pinch, something has likely been performed incorrectly.
The acupuncturist may apply other elements to the needles during the process. For example, they may move the needles, add heat, or even apply electrical pulses. The acupuncturist utilizes these elements to increase the effectiveness of the needles.
The needles must remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes after the acupuncturist inserts them into specific areas. Afterward, the acupuncturist removes the needles.
It is essential to know that scientists must fully understand the whole process behind acupuncture’s beneficial properties. While evidence proves it relieves pain, the exact reason and details still need to be better understood. Along with this, acupuncture has few noted significant side effects, making it still worth exploring for many looking for new alternative pain relief methods.
Reasons Acupuncture Might Work
As with many potential ways to relieve back pain that are not understood completely, acupuncture has a few theories often used to explain how it works. Some of the theories several scientists bring up include:
- Release of Natural Opioids: The process may result in a person’s brain attempting to create natural pain-relieving opioids that both improve a person’s mood as well as relieve symptoms of pain.
- Stimulation of the Central Nervous System: When the acupuncturist places the needles into a person’s acupuncture points, the effects may stimulate the central nervous system. As a result, a person’s body may release chemicals into their brain, spinal cord, and muscles to dim pain or other symptoms.
- Changes in Brain Chemistry: A person’s brain may release both neurohormones and neurotransmitters. The result could be the impact on a person’s body, nerves, and organs in a way that changes how they process pain signals. Thus, it can relieve pain longer.
- Acceleration of Electromagnetic Signals: The needles could raise the rate of a person’s nerves’ electromagnetic signals. This acceleration may cause a person’s body to release both painkilling chemicals and immune cells that dull the impact of pain.
Acupuncture has many other possible ways that could be the root cause behind its pain-relieving capabilities. More research still needs to go into finding the exact mechanism of action for pain relief from acupuncture, but it is clear that current research shows these benefits exist.
Acupuncture and Lower Back Pain
There are several methods that people can use to get relief from lower back pain. For some, acupuncture will be the extra step to make their back pain manageable, but it will not work to the same degree for all patients.
When a person does get acupuncture for lower back pain from a professional, they are likely to have a different experience than other patients. However, the low risk involved still makes it an option worth at least trying.
Acupuncture can focus on different sections of the back. For lower back pain, in particular, there are several places that the person applying the needles may deem fit to insert them. This needle placement includes some obvious spots, but others are locations many would not expect going in for their first session. However, the acupuncturist will discuss the intended areas before the procedure.
Depending on what your acupuncture specialist decides for your lower back pain, you could receive acupuncture in many locations, including your:
- Lower back
- Back of the knees
It is crucial that before receiving acupuncture treatment, you get a medical consultation first. While it is true that acupuncture is low risk and that most people will have a safe acupuncture experience, some circumstances can raise the level of risk involved.
For example, if you take a blood thinner of some type, your doctor may suggest you opt for an alternative to acupuncture. Always consult your doctor before initiating any medical intervention to know if the treatment will be safe.
How Well Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture and how well it works comes down to the individual more than anything else. While research supports the claims that it can relieve pain in the lower back, it will work differently for some.
Some claim that acupuncture was the step that finally made their back pain manageable with regular sessions. In contrast, others claim they received no benefits from attending acupuncture sessions. Everyone’s body is different without the exact methods behind understanding how acupuncture relieves pain. Therefore, it is hard to pinpoint how well it will work for someone before attempting acupuncture.
If you are in a group, you should know that you must refrain from attempting acupuncture. However, it is imperative that before you make any decision regarding acupuncture, you check in with your doctor. This medical consultation is especially essential if you are on any medication, even if the drug is not specifically for your back pain.
If your doctor agrees you are not at risk by trying acupuncture, it could be an excellent treatment option. A first session may see some results, but even if it does not work immediately, that does not mean it will not work after a few more sessions.
For some, it takes time to start seeing the benefits of acupuncture. However, if you see little to no benefit after multiple sessions, it may not be for you.