Low back pain? Try Acupuncture before prescription painkillers, says new clinical guideline
In the clinic, I've seen great results with acupuncture for acute and chronic low back pain. I've definitely heard, "I wish I had tried this years ago!" from patients who have received total relief from their pain with acupuncture, when no other interventions worked, and after years of suffering in pain. Given the opioid crisis gripping the country right now, efforts are being made to recommend effective treatments for pain that do not involve prescription pain medication. In April 2017, The American College of Physicians released a new clinical guideline for interventions to treat acute and chronic low back pain. Acupuncture is among the list of interventions to try first when dealing with chronic or acute low back pain.
Specifically, for acute low back pain they say:
"Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence)...(Grade: strong recommendation)."
For chronic low back pain, their recommendation is:
"For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate-quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation).
This seems like a step in the right direction to help promote safe, effective, and low-intervention therapies like acupuncture, massage, yoga and tai chi to treat acute and chronic pain.
Dr. Cheryl provides acupuncture in West Seattle and enjoys treating a wide variety of health conditions. She has been in practice for over 9 years, and believes that acupuncture can be gentle and comfortable while still being very effective. She has extensive experience in treating pain, fertility, women's health, and pregnancy.
Back Pain Exercises
As someone with chronic back pain myself, I often get relief through acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage. However, usually the results only last me around a day or so, then my low grade back pain returns.
Like me, many patients will not get lasting relief without strengthening and lengthening these chronically weak and spasmed muscles. I was happy to get some relief through the Egoscue Pain Free DVD series. The theory behind the Egoscue center and their exercises are to strengthen weak muscles, and lengthen spasmed ones. This gives you good posture and bone alignment, which keeps back pain from returning. The Egoscue method clinic also has a location in San Francisco where they give you an individualized treatment plan.
The DVDs are not “workout” videos but are exercises focused realigning muscles. Making a habit of doing the exercises can help to prevent back, hip, and neck pain from returning. Other methods of realigning the muscles in the body include yoga classes, tai chi, physical therapy, personal training (including weight lifting and stretching). Many people may be surprised to learn that Chinese herbs, when prescribed by a licensed herbalist, can also help to ease chronic back pain.
Cheryl House, L. Ac., DACM, FABORM