Affecting roughly 80 percent of the world’s population at one time or another, lower back pain is a common complaint that’s not always easy to treat since symptoms aren’t always linked to a physical source that can be pinpointed with great accuracy by image testing. The use of acupuncture to treat lower back pain, while not entirely accepted by the mainstream medical community due to the subjective nature of the technique, has proven successful for patients not responding well to traditional treatment options.

Stimulating the Central Nervous System

It’s believed that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system by targeting specific points throughout the body. This added stimulation may trigger the release of chemicals affecting how pain is interpreted within the brain and subsequently felt in muscles and nerves adjacent to the spine. Additional theories suggest that acupuncture may help relieve lower back pain by:

• Triggering the release of naturally occurring opioids

• Altering the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the brain

• Increasing the flow of pain-killing chemicals, such as endorphins

When to Consider Acupuncture for Pain Relief

Conservative treatments like initial bed rest, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy are often employed when first treating lower back pain. Acupuncture becomes a viable options for some patients when other treatments fail to provide any meaningful relief. Acupuncture does not interfere with other medical treatments, so it’s not a one or the other decision for patients. In fact, many acupuncture devotees continue with their doctor-recommended treatments. There’s even research suggesting that acupuncture techniques may make the body more receptive to traditional treatments for lower back pain.

A Safe Companion to Traditional Treatments

Recurrence rates with lower back pain are high, with many people reporting subsequent episodes within the first month or so after their initial episode, according a survey of lower back pain sufferers. Since acupuncture treatments don’t interfere with other treatments, there’s rarely any medical reason why patients with recurring lower back pain can’t at least give it a try after receiving doctor approval. The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture provides information on where to find licensed acupuncturists along with contact details.

For lower back pain sufferers not finding meaningful relief elsewhere, acupuncture presents a treatment option that may take their pain down to a level that’s manageable. As with any type of back pain treatment, there is no guarantee of what the results will be for each patient. When performed by a licensed practitioner, however, acupuncture is considered safe.