The Back Pain Problem
If you’ve experienced even moderate levels of back pain you know what a big impact it can have on your life. You’re not alone.
Low back pain is the primary cause of activity disability and lost work time throughout most of the world, imposing not only suffering but also a high financial burden on individuals, families, and communities. In the United Kingdom, low back pain is the most common cause of disability in young adults, with more than 100 million workdays lost per year. In the United States, an estimated 149 million work days are lost every year because of low back pain, with total costs estimated to be US$ 100 to 200 billion a year.
Back pain is a symptom of other causes including mechanical problems such as disc degeneration, injuries including sprains and fractures, as well as spinal diseases such as scoliosis. In many cases though the major originating cause may be traced to prolonged high levels of stress and anxiety.
Current western treatment for low back pain focuses on the use of analgesics to minimize pain and other symptoms however the root causes are rarely addressed – meaning that the patient has to endure a lifetime of discomfort and constant medication. Disc surgery offers the last option when all other treatment strategies have failed, but the outcomes are unpredictable and can in some cases leave the patient in a more painful state than before the surgery.
Natural Solutions for Back Pain
Acupuncture is a widely used low back pain treatment that can provide lasting relief without the unpleasant and unpredictable side effects of over-the-counter or prescription medications. Acupuncture can help relieve back pain by:
- Stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, leading to release of endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
- Reducing inflammation by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
- Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
- Improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as physical therapy.
The British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend that practitioners offer a course of 10 sessions of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain.
All the above clinical points however miss the most powerful benefit that Chinese Medicine can offer: The ability to dramatically lower stress and inflammation, and to restore natural balance and harmony to the body’s ecosystem.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Severe or aching pain in the lower back after activity
Difficulty moving that is severe enough to prevent walking or standing
Pain that moves around to the groin, buttock or upper thigh
Muscle spasms, which can be severe