Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

Pain happens. Especially back pain. Pain is very common, with a ⅓ of adults suffering from some form of chronic pain (you aren’t alone!). Chronic pain costs the US around 600 BILLION dollars each year. Opioid medications are still present in the top ten list of most commonly prescribed medications today. Steroids and NSAIDS often come with their own host of side effects and health concerns. As the mainstream starts to recognize the opioid and pain crisis both physicians and patients look to alternatives to muscle relaxers, steroids, NSAIDS, and opioid medications to treat their chronic pains.  

Acupuncture in combination with traditional care helps more than usual care alone. One study found that while physical therapy and acupuncture can both improve back pain, acupuncture treated lower back pain better then physiotherapy when the pain was more severe to start with. Acupuncture combined with either electrical stimulation, laser therapy, or cupping was more effective then traditional acupuncture alone in the reduction of pain. Studies have found it to be effective in pregnancy related back pain as well, and with its low risk, it is a wonderful option for pregnant women. 

Clinically, back pain is treated very well with acupuncture, cupping, and electro-stimulation. As a general rule of thumb, patients suffering for more than six months with more moderate to severe pain will find a longer course of treatment suggested for maximum results. In chronic and/or more severe cases, typically, 8-12 sessions done consecutively is most effective. The opposite is true for those with a shorter duration of pain. Pain may never go away completely in these more chronic cases, but pain may become lower, less frequent, and patients find day to day living to be much improved. Some studies show reduced pain scores even after two year follow ups. Most clients will find occasional ‘tune ups’  to be useful in preventing the reoccurrence of severe or frequent pain. 

written by Ashley

Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

Urits, I., Schwartz, R., Orhurhu, V., Maganty, N., Reilly, B., Patel, P., Wie, C., Kaye, A., Mancuso, K., Kaye, A. and Viswanath, O., 2021. A Comprehensive Review of Alternative Therapies for the Management of Chronic Pain Patients: Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and Chiropractic Care. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 June 2021].

David, J., modi, S., Aluko, A. A., Robertshaw, C., & farebrother, J. (1998, October 1). Chronic Neck Pain: a comparison of acupuncture treatment and physiotherapy. Oxoford Academic.