Lumbar
pain is the number one condition affecting Americans today.  It is one of the most common reasons people
see a health care provider.  Surgery is
not always necessary and can often be avoided by exploring alternative
treatment options.  Pain medications can
be helpful for immediate pain relief but do not do anything to treat the cause
of the injury.  Acupuncture treatment
can offer patients both immediate pain relief and treat the underlying cause.

The use of acupuncture to treat lower back
pain and sciatica has increased dramatically in the last 10 years.  Research studies conducted in the past
decade have proven that acupuncture is safe and effective therapy for back pain
and sciatica, whether acute or chronic.
Often patients will experience immediate pain relief following
treatment. For long-term pain relief, it is essential for the acupuncturist to
treat the root cause of the pain, often degeneration in the lumbar vertebrae.

Sciatic type pain patterns can develop
from disc degeneration in the lower back or from muscle spasms in the back and
hip region.  Often patients with
degenerative or bugling discs in the lower back may only feel pain in the hip
and shooting down the leg.  This is
known as sciatica.  The sciatic nerve is
being compressed in the 4 and 5th lumbar vertebrae or the
sacral-iliac joint.  Acupuncture can
help increase circulation and decrease inflammation in these areas, allowing
the discs to heal and reducing pain.

Treatment of back pain usually consists of 10-15 needles inserted
along the back and in other distal areas of the body.  Trigger points are palpated for tenderness and allow the
acupuncturist to accurately diagnose the specific pain pattern.  Acupuncture points are chosen around the
lower spine where injury has occurred.
The patient may feel deep pressure as these muscles are released, but
the procedure should not be painful.  At
the end of the session, the patient experiences a state of deep relaxation.

Acupuncture works dramatically well when
used in combination with other healing methods.  Specifically, chiropractic care and regular massage therapy,
alternated with acupuncture, can provide patients with effective healing from back
pain and sciatica.  Following a chiropractic
adjustment, acupuncture is very effective at relaxing the surrounding muscle
tissue so that the adjustment will last.
Massage therapy can also be useful to decrease muscle spasms and aid in
pain relief.

It
has been estimated that up to 80% of the world’s population will suffer from
back pain at some point in their lives.
It is not necessary, however, to live with this type of pain.  The healing modalities of acupuncture,
chiropractic and massage are offering many people with chronic pain a safe and
effective treatment option.