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Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: A Comprehensive Approach


Low back pain is one of the most common conditions treated with acupuncture, arising from various causes such as lumbar disc herniation, muscle strains, degenerative changes in the lumbar spine, or overuse injuries. Whether the pain is acute or chronic, acupuncture typically offers satisfactory results.


Many patients with low back pain and sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation experience significant pain relief after acupuncture, particularly those who have not responded to other conservative treatments. acupuncture is increasingly recognized as a complementary therapy that can reduce the need for invasive surgeries.


Both acute and chronic low back pain respond well to acupuncture. For acute cases, early and appropriate movement of the back and legs is crucial. Acute pain is often caused by improper posture leading to acute synovial entrapment during bending movements. Prolonged compression of the entrapped synovium can lead to edema and inflammation, triggering local pain or reflexive muscle tension. Timely back and leg movements not only aid in repositioning the trapped synovium but also improve local blood circulation and alleviate muscle tension. However, severe pain can restrict movement. In such cases, acupuncture can provide pain relief, making movement possible, or applying acupressure to distant points can facilitate easier movement.


For acute back pain caused by synovial entrapment, if self-movement of the affected area is not feasible, manual repositioning can be effective. Manual traction and massage before and after manipulation help relax tense muscles in the lumbar and sacral areas. Manual therapy is also beneficial for acute lumbar sprains, chronic lumbar muscle strain, and lumbar facet joint dysfunction.


The lumbar spine is a common site for degenerative changes (osteoarthritis) and a frequent cause of chronic low back pain. Acupuncture at the Huatuojiaji points is an effective method for treating chronic low back pain caused by spinal osteoarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.

Surgical treatments for lumbar disc herniation or osteophyte growth are prevalent. Although surgery helps many patients, a significant proportion experience ineffective results or pain recurrence. Thus, many patients seek acupuncture as a last resort after surgery. However, surgery can alter the normal anatomy of the lower back, such as cutting nerves, which can weaken the sensation during acupuncture. These patients often require more targeted acupuncture at the most sensitive points to maximize effectiveness and use pain relief as an indirect indicator of successful treatment.


Low back pain can have complex causes, including visceral referred pain, such as from kidney stones, uterine contractions during pregnancy, or other visceral reflexes. Acupuncture generally shows good results for back pain due to internal organ issues. For these cases, direct stimulation of painful areas or reflex zones corresponding to the affected organs on the lower limbs can be employed.


In summary, acupuncture offers a holistic and effective approach for managing low back pain from various causes. Its ability to provide relief and facilitate recovery makes it a valuable option for those suffering from this prevalent condition.

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