Back pain can affect anyone at any age and is the UK’s leading cause of disability and work-related sickness absence. Most cases of lower back pain are not caused by serious damage or disease, but by muscle strains or sprains, a pinched or irritated nerve, or minor injuries. It can also occur in pregnancy, or because of stress, viral infection or kidney infection.
Research has shown that acupuncture for low back pain is significantly better than no treatment at all and at least as good, if not better than, standard medical care. It can relieve pain by:
- Stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues to alter the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008)
- Promoting the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors to reduce inflammation (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003)
- Easing muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising
- Being added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercise to improve the outcome (Yuan 2008; Ammendolia 2008)
For further details regarding research on acupuncture and back pain, see the fact sheet for back pain on the British Acupuncture Council Website.
“ My job entails long periods of sitting at a computer and as much as I try to move around, from time to time the old low back pain can start up. This can become really disruptive as the pain moves from a dull ache to being sharp and nasty, characterized by spasms. It makes me feel unwell and wakes me at night. I used acupuncture about 5 years ago for the first time and the effect was like magic – spasms gone within two hours and stiffness and pain within 24 hours, with no further symptoms for several months at least, and all of this without drugs. If I feel anything starting up again, I’ll go straight to Charmian (Mark, 60)