Studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for back pain show mixed results due to the subjective nature of what’s still considered an alternative treatment. For many patients, however, the centuries-old technique provides welcome relief from back pain.
With the controversy over opioid pain medications, it’s worth noting that acupuncture is thought to trigger the release of natural opioids in the body when sterilized needles are inserted into specific areas along the spine.
One of the misconceptions about acupuncture is that it’s a hit-or-miss conservative treatment for back pain. A licensed practitioner will ask questions about a patient’s back pain and overall health to fine-tune treatments.
There’s evidence to suggest acupuncture may change how pain signals are sent along nerves from the spine to the brain. It may also alter the secretion of specialized nerve cells called neurohormones and the neurotransmitters that relay signals between nerves.
A German study found that patients who received acupuncture treatments for six months were twice as likely to report relief over participants opting for conventional treatments only.
When performed by a licensed practitioner, acupuncture treatments for back pain are considered safe for most patients. Complications, such as damage to the central nervous system from improper needle insertion, are rare.
Needles used for acupuncture treatments are smaller than standard hypodermic needles–they’re also not hollow and don’t draw blood. For many patients with back pain, this means little or no discomfort.
Acupuncture for back pain relief isn’t for everyone. Pregnant women should avoid it since it may trigger early delivery. Acupuncture should also be avoided by patients with infectious skin disorders, conditions that cause easy bleeding, and seizure disorders.
Learn more about your options for pain relief by reaching out to Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of medical professionals at The Spine Institute. Dr. Bae is a trusted and experienced Los Angeles spine surgeon who believes in exhausting conservative treatment options before considering surgical procedures. Call our offices today at (310) 828-7757 and request your in-person consultation.