Acupuncture – and the benefits of getting pins and needles!

by admin

Ever been in a situation where you’ve bent down to pick something off the floor and couldn’t straighten up after that? Remember the sharp stabbing pains in your lower back as if someone was twisting a knife through the base of your spine? And all you could do was ease yourself down on the floor in agony?

This is a familiar scenario for anyone who suffers, or has suffered in the past, with lower back pain. It’s excruciating to say the least. While it can subside quite fast with a little rest and some pain killers, it can also plague you for the rest of your life. Or you can try acupuncture.

Of course, your family doctor may not agree and will probably tell you to be careful henceforth; not carry heavy weights; and to bend your knees if you need to pick up anything off the floor, and not to bend from the waist. It’s all very well to practice all this, in principle, if you want to prevent a recurrence of this situation. But how practical is it to never carry anything heavy (how about those grocery bags from the supermarket)? And will you always remember to bend from the knees if you suddenly need to grab something off the floor?
Acupuncture | Life Hyped
No. You need a more long-term solution – one that ensures your low back pain does not recur.

What are your options?

The conventional methods of treatment include physiotherapy; yoga; reflexology; a chiropractor (to manipulate your spine); and naturopathy, etc. They all offer varying degrees of relief – some long term, some short term. But very few offer a cure.

Of course, a lot depends on the cause of your low back pain. Is it due to:

  • An injury
  • Spondylitis
  • Curvature of the spine
  • Pinched nerve in the spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Slipped disc

These are just some of the reasons for your lower back being thrown out of kilter. And the first step to solving your problem is to identify the cause. This will involve a visit to your general physician who will probably refer you to a specialist, such as an orthopedist, chiropractor or naturopath. Who will in turn, probably ask you to get some tests done, like X-rays, MRI’s, scans, bone density tests, etc.

Once you get all your reports, you may be asked to undergo surgery or physiotherapy. Most people would prefer to avoid surgery, except in extreme cases. Physiotherapy has its merits, but can take time to be effective, and has to be practiced regularly. Since it’s not practical to visit a physiotherapist a few times a week, you will probably be taught to do some exercises on your own at home, to maintain the fitness of your lower back, over a fairly long period of time. Insurance may not always cover physiotherapy, and it may be too expensive to sustain in the long run, if you pay out of your own pocket.

But you may have an option to find a long-term cure, if you’re willing to give it a shot – acupuncture.

Does acupuncture help for low back pain?

Although acupuncture is considered a new age, alternative therapy in the west today, it has actually been around for centuries, and people from the Far East swear by it. It originated in China, but is recognized worldwide, as an effective form of therapy today. There are, of course, those who refuse to accept it, saying there is no scientific basis for its so-called efficacy. Then again, those who have experienced its benefits become staunch supporters.

So, exactly what is acupuncture?

In acupuncture, thin, sterilized metal needles of varying lengths are inserted in your body. These needles help stimulate and release serotonin and endogenous opioids, activating glutamate and diffuse noxious inhibitory control systems, and have local segmental effects which are supposed to provide relief from pain.

Before trying out acupuncture, you will be required to undergo a full medical examination and assessment to eliminate other serious conditions which may cause lower back pain. Chinese medical practitioners are likely to enquire about the quality of your sleep, your energy levels, tinnitus, giddiness and pain in different parts of your body. They will also check the shape of your tongue, and its color and coating. Checking your radial pulse is also an important aspect of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. They will then palpate the tender points in your body to insert the needles into.

The jury is still out on the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of lower back pain. However, there are multitudes of people who swear that it has worked for them. While research is on-going and there is insufficient definitive scientific evidence to support this theory, some studies maintain that it is effective with little, or no, side effects, when practiced by a qualified acupuncturist.

If you have already tried out various medical avenues in vain, you may consider acupuncture for relief from lower back pain. But do carry out detailed due diligence to identify a qualified, experienced practitioner, who has successfully treated people you may know and can get referrals from.

And remember, people in China swear by acupuncture, and have for centuries!

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