One of the most common reasons people seek acupuncture is for some sort of back or back related pain. Over 80% of adults in the US will experience back pain at some point during their lives*.
Back pain can occur along any part of the spine and often shoots (or radiates) to other parts of the body.
Acupuncture and Sciatica
Sciatica happens when an injury or weakness in the lumbar (lower back) region causes pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and its pathway travels from the lower back, through the hips and pelvis , down the back of the leg and splits to travel finally into the foot.
When the nerve is irritated at the spine, the body often confuses where the actual irritation is occurring. When this confusion happens, people experience pain in areas other than the back. Common areas of sciatic related pain are the hip, thigh, knee, calf or foot. Determining that the pain is rooted in the low back – instead of where it is being “experienced”- is key to treating it successfully.
The same can happen in the upper back. Nerves from the spine at the base of the neck or upper chest travel down into the arms and can cause discomfort anywhere along their track – from shoulder to hand – and still be rooted in the spine.
Understanding Back Pain through Acupuncture
A thorough exam and medical intake at the beginning of care ensures the acupuncturist understands the cause of the pain, even if it’s not in the area the patient is feeling it. This allows for a more effective and long lasting solution for the patient.
Acupuncture has long been used very effectively to help people suffering from back and back related pain. The Acupuncturist chooses points specific to each patient’s case that allow the body to increase the flow of blood (carrying oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and the body’s immune – or clean up – cells) directly to the injured area. This blood flow allows the body to do what it does naturally – heal and rebuild.
Oddly enough after issues become chronic, or an injury is severe, the body tends to do some healing work but can become sluggish and stop before the job is finished. Lifestyle, stress, diet and continued physical strain on the injured area can all cause this to happen.
At Acupuncture & Holistic Health Associates, we employ advanced acupuncture techniques where points are often chosen away from the area of injury. Because of their function in turning on the body’s own healing powers in the areas we are targeting, this has allowed us to not only give patients pain relief, but real healing that lasts past the treatment period.
Side Effects of Acupuncture
Side effects in Acupuncture are extremely rare to non-existent, though some patients experience what is known as a “healing reaction.” This is a phenomenon where the patient feels a bit worse before they start to feel relief. It’s cause by the reaction of tissues in the injured area to a sudden increase in blood after a treatment. It’s similar to the idea of the discomfort you experience after your foot falls asleep and you let blood supply return. Those nerves get a bit excited, but once the blood feeds, nurtures and soothes them, it feels so much better. Read more about Healing Reactions here.
How many Acupuncture Treatments will I need?
A common question is “How many sessions of acupuncture will I need?” Each patient’s case is unique and the number of visits required to heal the body can vary widely due to many factors:
- How severe is the injury?
- How long have you had or how chronic is the injury and pain?
- What is the general health of the patient like?
- Is the patient able and willing to make some lifestyle changes to enhance the speed and strength of recovery?
These things are evaluated individually and the acupuncturist will make all recommendations they feel will enable the patient to reach restored function and health as quickly as possible.
How much does Acupuncture cost?
The cost of acupuncture varies from region to region in the US and even from one practitioner to another in a given area. Focusing on getting well as quickly as possible is always the most cost-effective choice in the long run for any given condition. Because acupuncture aims to eliminate rather that manage pain and other health issues, over a person’s lifetime it can affect an incredible savings in healthcare and disease management costs for the average person.