Acupuncture is a Fantastic Alternative to Drugs for Low Back Pain

Photo by Edward Chan/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Edward Chan/iStock / Getty Images

What is one of the most frequent reasons for patients to go to the doctor?  If you said, “Low back pain” you are right!  According to an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 25% of American adults have danced with low back pain for at least one day in the last three months. 

For some people dancing with back pain, it may be tempting to look for relief from the pharmacy.  However this February, the American College of Physicians (ACP) issued strong recommendations that patients try other non-drug methods such as acupuncture before taking a pill.   Drugs should only be used if therapies like acupuncture, tai chi, massage, chiropractic, or heat therapy don't work.  The recommendations cite research that shows that acupuncture (as well as some other therapies)  were as effective if not more effective than the drugs with fewer side effects.    These recommendations reinforce the conclusions of 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that acupuncture is effective at treating chronic pain.   These findings are similar to those in other studies cited here by the National Institute of Health.

While it is incredibly exciting to hear that the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture as a first line treatment, it's not surprising.   I am repeatedly awed and amazed at how acupuncture supports my patients with back pain.  In my opinion, acupuncture is so effective because it doesn’t just mask the symptoms but because it helps the whole person find balance.  And when in balance, the body naturally starts to heal the root causes of the pain.  

There are many reasons why a patient's back may hurt.  Some patients with low back pain may be at a period in life where they are “going, going, going non-stop.”  The pain can be our bodies’ signal to slow down or take it down a notch.     In these cases, acupuncture not can only alleviate the pain but it may also help people feel calm, sleep better and be able to slow down.  In other cases, the low back pain may be signaling a need to for gentle exercise.  Often as we restore balance, patients not only experience reduction in pain but also find it is easier to create better habits that support their back and entire body.   What I find really exciting is that acupuncture helps patients to be more "in their body".   They begin to notice the subtle signs that proceed the onset of pain.  I work together with my patients to use these symptoms as teachers and then we uncover simple approaches they can use to to bring themselves into balance, preventing the return of pain.  In this way, my patients become empowered to take charge of their own wellness.

It is exciting that institutions such as the American College of Physicians are recognizing the value of this beautiful medicine.  If you are interested in trying acupuncture, call and we can talk to explore if this is right for you.  You can reach out to me at meg (at) megcaseyacupuncture (dot) com or call 301-408-9873.