Lower Back Pain – Is Acupuncture Complementary?

_DSC0024_1Lower back pain plagues the adult population of the modern world. A report in 2009 suggests that a third of UK adults will experience some type of lower back pain each year and 20% of those will consult a doctor. Thats 1/15 so in my kids class at school thats about 4 parents visiting the Doc and another 16 suffering in silence. For one problem? No wonder we pay so much national insurance yet still cant get an appointment at the local surgery.

In the 2009 Clinical Guidance issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, a course of up to 10 acupuncture treatments is recommended as a primary intervention for non specific lower back pain.  This means it should be one of the first things you try yet still many people come in seeking help as a last resort.

So how does it help?  Well some studies offer various theories.

Acupuncture can help by:

1. Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987; Zhao 2008).

2. Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007;Zijlstra 2003).

3. Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility – by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.

4. Reducing the use of medication for back complaints (Thomas 2006).

5. Providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).

6. Improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises (Ammendolia 2008; Yuan 2008).

And we must remember, scientific research into acupuncture is only a few decades old.  The traditional history is over 2000 yrs old!

So, if you’re suffering with your back, why not give acupuncture a try.  It could be just what the doctor should order!

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