Lower Back Pain Treatment

Acupuncture for Lower back pain - Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Causes of lower back pain

Pain in the lower back is one of the most common complaints I see in clinic. It is one of those injuries that can occur at any age and any time. It can be caused by prolonged sitting or excess exercise.  Our back is a large postural muscle but it also relies on strong abdominal muscles to help. A lack of core strength is a common cause as the back has to work extra hard to keep us upright.  The most common causes I see are:

  • Excess weight around the abdomen
  • Poor posture while sitting at work
  • Incorrect lifting techniques
  • Excess exercise
  • Exposure to cold winds or damp – causes pathogenic invasion of the muscles and channels

Lower back pain can be quite debilitating, as tightness in the muscles can put pressure on the nerves leaving the spinal cord, which causes sharp shooting and referred pain.  The most common cause is too much sitting, which some people spend most of their day doing. The discs in your back are designed to expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients. When you sit, the discs are compressed and can lose flexibility over time. This can increase your risk of a bulging or herniated disc.

Lower Back pain can actually be tight Gluteal Muscles

Often I see patients coming in complaining of lower back pain, but in fact it is their upper glute muscles which are causing them pain.  Pain which spreads through the hips and around the sacrum is often caused by tension through the hip muscles.  These muscles are also involved in maintaining your posture.  I see great improvements in back pain patients when I needle special points through the gluteal muscles to release the tension.

man injured lower back lifting boxes
image of damaged spine

The Long Term Damage Caused by Lower Back Pain

All the muscles of our body attach to bones which give us structure. When the muscles though are overworked or damaged, the structure then starts taking the load. Prolonged wear and tear on the spine can result in slipped discs, or narrowing of the nerve channels called stenosis. This can lead to serious injuries and pain if left untreated.  Once damage has been done to the structure then we have a serious problem. Do realise that spinal surgery is not a long term solution and should only ever be a last resort.  What many people don’t realise is that once a vertebrae has been fused or operated on, it then simply transfers the load to the next in line and the problem continues. All other alternatives should be exhausted before you consider surgery on your spine!

The inflammation in the soft tissue can transfer and cause the vertebral discs to become swollen, which then begin to press on nerves causing pain and even Sciatica. As shown in the adjacent diagram, there are several stages to disc degeneration. The sooner you act and seek treatment the better the outcome!

How My Acupuncture Treats Lower Back Pain

As stated above, I treat back pain on a daily basis. No matter how long you’ve had the pain for, Acupuncture can potentially reverse a lot of the damage done. It all depends on the severity. If it is mostly soft tissue, just being tight muscles, then the prognosis can be very good.  Often lower back pain is caused by cold and damp, which are pathogens that block and lock up muscle. Often the pain is worse in the morning, and improves the more you move. As the circulating Qi helps move the cold temporarily.

If though we have herniated discs and stenosis, then its about long term management. The body is still capable of healing itself, but it cannot reverse all the structural changes which have occurred.  The priority here is long term management to prevent further deterioration!  Like with a vehicle that has damage, it can still go on, but you just have to change the way you do things. Bulging discs are not a life sentence, you can still have a long and active life, but you need to be aware of what you can and can’t do.  Acupuncture has been shown to speed up lower back recovery from herniated discs.

Acupuncture is very effective in reducing pain and inflammation, which means that we can stop the disc from degenerating further, provided you look after it.  Don’t be complacent and think it will go away or fix itself, it won’t.  But together, we can ensure it doesn’t get worse!

Prevention of Lower Back Pain

As the old saying goes,’prevention is always better than cure’. Here are some simple things that you can do to ensure you don’t develop back pain, or help improve an existing injury:

  • Do regular exercise involving core strengthening
  • Avoid exposure to cold winds and damp
  • Don’t sit for prolonged periods
  • Do regular stretching
  • Lift heavy objects correctly
  • If you are experiencing acute or chronic back pain seek treatment – Complacency is dangerous, if the pain isn’t improving on its own within a few days, then you should seek medical aid.

Remember, Acupuncture is well known for being helpful with both acute and chronic injuries, the sooner you come see me for treatment, the better the outcome.

“It is not just about treating illness, it is about prevention and protection of your health, which is your most precious commodity.”

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