Low back pain is all around us. If you have not suffered from it yourself, then you probably know at least one person who has or still does.
In the first instance, when the pain is in the acute phase, most people will improve with ease within the first month and continue to experience small, but incremental improvements up to 3 (sub-acute phase) months on average. At this point, a lot of people stall in their recovery and will often have a relapse within 12 months (chronic phase) (1,2).
Western Acupuncture, or dry needling, has been shown to be an excellent adjunct treatment for those suffering from low back pain, especially those who have been suffering for more than 3 months (classed as chronic) (1,3). The Western style of acupuncture varies from its traditional Eastern roots as it tends to focus on trigger points (taught bands) within the muscle belly, rather than going for specific meridian points. Both styles use the same style of needle, a fine filament solid steel needle. Nothing can be injected by them.
Insertion of the needles has a few effects on the body. Locally there is a release of chemicals and neuropeptides that cause an increase in blood to the area as well as pain relief from the stimulation of endorphins and naturally occurring opioids (4,5).
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for pain relief for low back pain, especially in the short term, and for improvements in functionality 1. Chiropractic care has already been shown to be better than placebo or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories in the management of low back pain 6. When we pair these two therapies together, it is shown to be effective to reliving pain and improving functionality better than conventional therapies (medications, stretching) alone. And not just for low back pain, acupuncture can be applied to almost all musculoskeletal complaints (1,7).
If you are interested in finding out more about adding acupuncture to your care, speak to one of our chiropractors.
1. Furlan, A. D., van Tulder, M. W., Cherkin, D., Tsukayama, H., Lao, L., Koes, B. W., & Berman, B. M. (2005). Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd001351.pub2
2. Hoy, D. , Bain, C. , Williams, G. , March, L. , Brooks, P. , Blyth, F. , Woolf, A. , Vos, T. and Buchbinder, R. (2012), A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64: 2028-2037. doi:10.1002/art.34347
3. Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, et al. Acupuncture in Patients With Chronic Low Back PainA Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(4):450–457. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.4.450
4. Carlsson, C., 2002. Acupuncture mechanisms for clinically relevant long-term effects–reconsideration and a hypothesis. Acupuncture in Medicine, 20(2-3), pp.82-99.
5. Zhao, Z.Q., 2008. Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia. Progress in neurobiology, 85(4), pp.355-375.
6. von Heymann, W.J., Schloemer, P., Timm, J. and Muehlbauer, B., 2013. Spinal high-velocity low amplitude manipulation in acute nonspecific low back pain: a double-blinded randomized controlled trial in comparison with diclofenac and placebo. Spine, 38(7), pp.540-548.
7. Kalichman, L. and Vulfsons, S., 2010. Dry needling in the management of musculoskeletal pain. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 23(5), pp.640-646.