Back pain acupuncture therapy

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin at strategic points. Although acupuncture is not a traditional part of Western medicine, it is gaining acceptance as a nonsurgical treatment option for neck and back pain. Acupuncture focuses on the theory of chi (a universal life force) and how it flows through the 20 pathways of the body.

The underlying principle of acupuncture is that there are more than 2,000 points on the body that connect to these chi pathways, and by stimulating these points in specific combinations and sequences, the flow of chi can be maintained or normalized. To learn more about the process of acupuncture, as well as the alternatives available for relief, read the following article.

How does acupuncture relieve back pain?

Acupuncture has been shown to relieve the painful symptoms associated with spine conditions like prolapsed discs, bone spurs and failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), among other disorders. However, medical science has yet to fully understand how or why acupuncture works to relieve pain. There are many observed physical effects of the procedure that may help explain its effectiveness.

For instance, acupuncture stimulates the following areas:

  • The central nervous system. Patients undergoing the procedure often report tingling sensations and an increase in energy.
  • Electromagnetic points on the body. This is thought to release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that are naturally produced by the body. Endorphins are believed to promote a sense of well-being and block pain signals.
  • The pituitary gland and hypothalamus. These areas release neurohormones and neurotransmitters that affect how the body and brain experience pain.

It is important to remember that while acupuncture can be effective at relieving the symptoms of sciatica, herniated discs and other spine conditions, it is not a cure and may not work for everyone.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is generally considered to be safe, as long as it is administered by a registered and licensed practitioner. In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires the use of sterile, one-time-use needles, which must be in a sealed container prior to use. Injuries are rare when working with a trained acupuncturist.

However, since acupuncture involves penetrating the skin, it cannot be considered totally noninvasive, and it does carry some risks. The most common complications from acupuncture include bruising and bleeding at the insertion site, infection, nausea and fainting. Although rare, more serious side effects such as, nerve damage, brain damage or stroke are possible.

Alternatives to acupuncture

Before starting acupuncture or any other new pain treatment strategy, consult your doctor to determine if the program is right for you. If several weeks or months of acupuncture, combined with other conservative forms of treatment like pain medication and physical therapy, are not effective for your condition, then surgical intervention may be recommended for you.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery^ in the form of our minimally invasive spine surgery. Since 2005, we have performed more than 100,000 patient procedures, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. To learn more about the advantages of our outpatient procedures, contact our dedicated team.

Laser Spine Institute uses small incisions, that do not unnecessarily disrupt the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine, allowing for a shorter recovery period and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.^ To find out if you are a potential candidate for our surgical procedures, reach out to us today and ask for a free MRI review.*