With roughly 21,000 articles, clinical trials and other western research available, its evident back pain affects a large amount of patients.
In fact so severe in some cases, patients resort to drastic measures to relieve pain, in the form of stimulator implants.
The implants send electrical pulses which interfere with nerve signals, dulling the pain. Spinal fusion surgery is also a common intervention, where vertebrae are fused or linked together.
So medically, what causes back pain? Well, a variety of issues according to western medicine. The most obvious: Excessive load. This has been supported and demonstrated by numerous studies. It’s worth noting that the Chinese already knew this some 2000 years ago. Common sense prevails! But what if you’re mainly the office type who sits ‘upright’ in a chair all day? Well consider this. Lets say for arguments sake the average female and male weigh 70 and 86kg respectively ( (according to the bureau of statistics) . Take half your body weight, apply the law of gravity whilst sitting awkwardly. Your poor back won’t appreciate hunched shoulders, and a mild slump whilst typing like a nutty professor.
Without getting too scientifically involved (we like simple words!), pain mechanisms generally involve nociceptors, which are nerve cells that send signals to the brain and spinal cord essentially sending ‘pain’ signals. What causes them to send the signals? A variety of stimuli including temperature, pressure, and injury-related chemicals. Essentially these cells are sending electrical signals back to higher brain centers. Whilst drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin seek to inhibit prostaglandins (lipids formed around the site of pain as part of the normal inflammatory response), they do not target the source of the pain, providing relief only. Furthermore, long term use can lead to complications such as gastric ulcers, bleeding and perforation, to name just a few. Unfortunately one of the prostaglandin types it prohibits actually protects the stomach lining from stomach acid. Ultimately gastrointestinal complications like this arise because the stomach/intestines are essentially losing their natural protection layer.
So how can acupuncture be an effective treatment to relieve pain? Simply put, acupuncture acts as an analgesic, a natural way of blocking the pain signals to the brain.
Scientific jargon aside, we work holistically too, because we would rather treat the source. Apart from constitutional, physical and energetic differences we all have, we can also explore emotional connections to back pain. Upper back and shoulder pain could be a phase where it feels like a weight is on your shoulders. Mid back pain may be refer to something or someone squeezing the life out of you. Lower back pain often correlates with finance or support issues.
We’d like to think that surgery would be the last port of call for patients, so we feel that it’s important to look at back pain holistically. If you do experience back pain then contact us to discuss your treatment options or book an appointment. Even healthinsite, a government website initiative to provide quality health information recognises that acupuncture is a viable treatment to back pain. So what are you waiting for!?