Does Acupuncture Work for Back Pain?


Acupuncture for Back PainIn these contemporary times, more and more people are growing interested in effective, natural treatment methods for debilitating diseases. This trend is not surprising given the fact that traditional medicine often fails to provide individuals with the relief from pain that they desire. Moreover, traditional medicine often presents users with unique risks and/or engenders side effects that complicate the user’s ability to lead a life marked by wellness. While there are many conditions that require relief from painful or inconveniencing symptoms, chronic back pain can be one of the most difficult to grapple with. It may be for this reason that many people are strongly considering whether or not the use of acupuncture will effectively alleviate the symptoms they suffer from and restore their health. By learning more about this issue, individuals who struggle with back pain can determine whether or not acupuncture can provide them with the health benefits they desire.

Back Pain Basics

Although complex, back pain is most simply defined as the experience of pain in one of the various regions of the back. The pain generally originates from the individual’s nerves, muscles, joints, bones or various other parts of the spine. When an individual is experiencing lower back pain, the pain is concentrated in the tendons, muscles, and spinal discs of the lower part of the back. Lower back pain can be caused by a plethora of factors, including but not limited to aging, overstretching, or lifting a heavy object. Upper back pain can be caused by similar factors, and this pain is concentrated between the top of the individual’s lumbar spine and the bottom of the neck.

In addition to recognizing the presence of lower and upper back pain, individuals who want to gain a deeper understanding of the types that exist should note that sciatica is another form of back pain. Sciatica refers to a type of back pain that results from irritation of the individual’s sciatic nerve. Generally, irritation of this nerve will cause pain ranging from mild to severe levels. The irritation typically results from the compression of a nerve root in the individual’s lower spine. Although sciatica is associated with back pain, it is not limited to the back region.

Another form of back pain an individual can struggle with includes a bulging disc. The medical term for a bulging disc is a spinal disc herniation, and it results when there is a tear in the annulus fibrosus (the outer ring of the individual’s intervertebral disc). When this tear occurs, the central portion of the disc bulges out beyond the outer rings that were damaged.

As many medical experts know, back pain is a very serious issue. In fact, it is the second most common form of ailment experienced by Americans. (Headaches are the first.) In recognizing the serious nature of back pain, many people consider acupuncture as a viable option to cure it. To understand whether or not acupuncture is right for you, it is important to gain a basic knowledge of what it is and how it works.

Acupuncture: A Brief Overview

While defined diversely, acupuncture is basically a variety of procedures that involve penetrating an individual’s skin with needles for the purpose of stimulating various regions of the body. According to many advocates of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is effective because the stimulation of various body regions can correct imbalances in the flow of “qi” (the individual’s circulating life force) through channels referred to as meridians. In Chinese thought, these meridians are a set of pathways in the individual’s body where vital energy is believed to flow. There are believed to be twelve meridians, and each one is associated with a specific organ in the body.

Does Acupuncture Work for Back Pain?

To understand whether or not acupuncture is really a viable cure for back pain, one should consider the reviews provided by current research on the topic. In discussing the subject, many note that people who have experienced back pain frequently find acupuncture to be an effective cure. Nevertheless, whether or not acupuncture is truly alleviating the symptoms of back pain has not been scientifically proven. In discussing why this is the case, medical doctor Brent A. Bauer points out that it is difficult to create a good form of artificial or “sham” acupuncture to compare the authentic version to. Bauer goes on to assert that scientific studies have demonstrated that “sham” acupuncture is just as effective as real acupuncture in alleviating back pain. However, Bauer states that both forms of acupuncture are more effective in relieving lower back pain than foregoing treatment entirely.

Acupuncture vs Chiropractic Treatment

In considering whether acupuncture is right for you, it is important to compare it to other forms of treatment-chiropractic treatment, for example. With chiropractic treatment, a chiropractor makes use of various techniques to alleviate back pain. One such technique includes spinal manipulation, which is a therapeutic intervention that is performed on the individual’s spinal articulations through the forceful return of the bones to where they should be by the doctor. Other forms of chiropractic treatment can include electrical modalities, exercise, and wellness counseling services. Chiropractic treatment brings with it many benefits, including the fact that its effective use can limit the necessity of drugs and/or surgery in the life of the patient.

One thing that individuals interested in alleviating lower back pain should consider when comparing chiropractic treatment to acupuncture is the cost involved. Typically, the fees for acupuncture will range from $60 to $120 for each session. How much you’ll pay over the long term will be contingent upon a plethora of factors, including how many sessions are necessary to help alleviate the pain of the condition. The cost range for chiropractic treatment generally ranges from $34 to $106 for each session, with the average rate for an adjustment of the general vertebrae being $65.

Acupuncture vs Massage

In addition to comparing and contrasting the efficacy of acupuncture to chiropractic treatment, you should consider whether massage is a viable treatment option. Massage involves the manipulation of the superficial and deep layers of the individual’s connective tissue and muscles. Various massage techniques can be used to alleviate back pain, and they are all designed to aid in the healing process while promoting relaxation and well-being. While massage is similar to acupuncture in that it is considered to be a natural treatment method, it differs from the latter practice because it does not involve the use of needles. Thus individuals who do not like the concept of using needles to alleviate back pain may want to consider massage therapy as a viable alternative.

Women who are pregnant may find massage therapy particularly beneficial. Studies indicate that having massages performed during the pregnancy cycle can help decrease the symptoms of depression, reduce anxiety, and relieve joint pains and muscle aches. Moreover, massage therapy has been shown to improve the outcome of the labor process and contribute to the health of the newborn.


Individuals who are interested in natural methods of curing back pain should seriously consider acupuncture as a viable means through which to accomplish this goal. While medical science has not indicated that acupuncture is a proven method through which all back pain can be eradicated, there is substantive evidence to suggest that it can play a role in the healing process. If you believe you or someone you love is suffering from a back condition, be sure to consult with a trained medical official.



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