Acupuncture For Lower Back Pain: A Healing Guide

Avatar for Clare Zivanovic By in acupuncture, lower back pain on 15/12/2022
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When you use acupuncture for lower back pain, you’re choosing a drug-free way to alleviate suffering.

If you feel alone in your pain, it may help to know that lower back pain is actually VERY common. According to Australia’s Healthdirect,

“…1 in 6 Australians report having back problems, and 4 out of 5 experience it sometime in their life”.

This means there’s a huge number of Aussies who, just like you, are seeking treatment options for lower back pain – preferably without the side effects of many pain relievers.

If you’re wondering if acupuncture treatments can help you, this healing guide has the information you need.

Acupuncture For Back Pain

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that stimulates the flow of energy, via meridians, using tiny needles. It’s been used for 2,500 years to treat physical and mental ailments, including back pain, muscle spasms, and strains and sprains.

Many scientific studies recognise the benefits of using acupuncture for back pain. However, results are a little inconsistent as sham acupuncture is often just as effective as regular acupuncture.

So, what is sham acupuncture?

Sham acupuncture, or placebo acupuncture, is when acu-needles are inserted away from ‘real’ (traditional) acupuncture points, or when non-penetrating techniques are used. It’s comparable to ‘real’ acupuncture and The Harvard Gazette offers this understanding:

“Research indicates that “real” acupuncture rewires the brain to produce long-term improvement…, while “sham” acupuncture may produce temporary results by tapping into the placebo circuitry in the brain.”

Is this a bad thing?

Not necessarily, as both types of acupuncture can bring pain-relieving benefits. It’s even noted that having either of these acu-treatments is more effective than having no treatment at all.

So in response to the question, ‘Will acupuncture help lower back pain?’

The answer is most likely a Yes – especially if you’re looking for short term improvements in pain and function.

How Does Acupuncture Help Lower Back Pain?

With more than 2,000 meridian points moving energy around the body, Acupuncturists believe dis-ease and pain manifest when this energy flow becomes blocked or stagnant. By inserting acupuncture needles into specific locations, the intention is to unblock the flow of energy so the body can return to its natural state of wellness.

Scientifically, research shows that acupuncture impacts the central nervous system and the endocrine system to trigger the release of:

  • anti-inflammatory substances
  • hormones, such as endorphins, that reduce pain, decrease stress and boost wellbeing
  • neurotransmitters that modulate the pain response
  • molecules that improve cellular communication and healing.

If you prefer a more science-based explanation, it’s comforting to know The Royal Australian College for General Practitioners considers acupuncture an evidence-based therapeutic option for lower back pain.

Acupuncture Treatment For Lower Back Pain

Before consulting an Acupuncturist for lower back pain treatment, please seek medical advice from your health care professional to rule out serious causes of your pain. If you’re given the all clear, you can safely seek acupuncture treatment.

During the initial consultation, an Acupuncturist may consider the following when creating a treatment plan for your lower back pain:

  • Your physical attributes, e.g. facial skin and texture, eyes, gait, and the coating on your tongue
  • The quality and tone in your voice
  • Your TCM pulse, which is located in your wrists and relates to the vitality in your organs. The pulse’s depth, strength, consistency and how the blood is moving will be noted.

Essential questions will also be asked. This will help the practitioner understand your main complaint, constitution and overall level of wellbeing.

From here, acupuncture points will be chosen to help your specific low back pain. After needles are inserted, they’ll be gently bowed and twirled to stimulate a mild sensation in the area. This is when you know the meridian has ‘woken’ up and healing has begun.

Healing Lower Back Pain With Acupuncture: Bonus Tips

You can maximise your acupuncture results by using the following adjunct treatments between sessions:

  • Acute Back Pain: Apply a cold pack to the site of pain for 20 minutes, then apply a heating pad to the site for another 20 minutes. This will help tame inflammation, reduce pain and improve blood flow for healing.
  • Chronic Back Pain: For back pain that lasts 4+ weeks, it’s best to focus on warming the area using heat packs or hot water bottles for 20-minute intervals. This at-home treatment helps to stimulate and encourage healing.

Your Next Healing Step…

If you’re ready to take the next step in your healing journey and try acupuncture for your lower back pain, simply click here to find a trusted Australian Acupuncturist near you.

Avatar for Clare Zivanovic

Clare Zivanovic is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist. She's been part of the health industry since 1999, and has shared her wisdom on commercial television, podcasts and in best-selling health magazines. Clare is also proud to have published a popular children's book called Superfood Attitude.