A Beginner's Guide to Acupuncture for Low Back Pain
Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek acupuncture. 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point. So why is it so common? It concerns the spine's shape, especially the lower lumbar spine. The spine is made of vertebrae bones stacked on each other, separated by spongy cartilage-like discs acting like shock absorbers. The lumbar spine supports all your upper body weight, which puts a load on the lumbar spine and results in mechanical stress and strain. The lumbar spine is curved at the bottom, which is normal; however, it predisposes the lowest segments of the lumbar spine to extra wear and tear. Over time, this cumulative wear and tear can cause longer-lasting low back pain.
Causes of low back pain
Structural causes include disc herniation, nerve compression, spinal stenosis (spinal canal narrowing), or spondylolisthesis (a vertebra slips forward over the one below it).
Postural or poor body mechanics
Muscle inhibition or weakness
Overuse or repetitive everyday activities
Trauma causes include car accidents, falls, or sports injuries.
Aging causes include osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, and disc degeneration.
Lower crossed syndrome
Regardless of the cause of your low back pain, there will be a muscle imbalance that causes dysfunction, leading to pain. Our sedentary lifestyle has significantly increased over the last century, mainly due to the widespread use of cars and computers that require us to sit for prolonged periods. Chronic sitting causes a postural dysfunction called lower crossed syndrome or anterior pelvic tilt which Dr. Vladimir Janda coined. Lower crossed syndrome is defined as tight hip flexors and low back extensors, and weak glutes and abdominal muscles, causing the pelvis to tilt forward (see image below). The weak muscles (glutes and abdominals) cannot adequately stabilize the pelvis, so the other muscles (low back extensors, hamstrings, hip flexors) compensate and overwork, causing tightness and pain.
Treatment for low back pain using acupuncture
Many studies show that acupuncture can help alleviate acute and chronic low back pain. If you are looking for a natural approach to pain relief for low back pain, acupuncture should be considered an option for treatment. At our clinic, we use a musculoskeletal approach to treating pain. Motor point acupuncture with electrostimulation activates weakened muscles and loosens tightened overworked muscles. This allows the overworked tight muscles to relax and the weakened muscles to activate and do their job. Trigger point acupuncture releases any myofascial restriction or muscle knots in the affected muscles for increased range of motion and pain reduction. Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization techniques such as cupping or gua sha can be utilized after the treatment for improved blood circulation to the tissues. Clients can see results after a few treatments. Once the muscles are loose and firing better and there is less pain and dysfunction, exercises are recommended at home to improve posture, or physical therapy is recommended.
Want to try acupuncture for your low back pain?
Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if acupuncture can help your low back pain, or book online. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us.