Acupuncture and back pain

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Back pain is one of the most common health conditions. It has been reported that 80 percent of the population will experience back pain some time in their life. Until fairly recently, it was the number one reason why people sought acupuncture treatments for relief (now the majority of people seeking acupuncture recognize its benefits in treating pain from nearly every cause, digestive disorders, immune disorders, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, etc.).

But does it really work, and how? For thousands of years (literally), acupuncturists have successfully treated acute and chronic low back pain. In all that time, people didn’t wait for research to “prove” that acupuncture worked. It just worked, they knew it worked, and acupuncture was the primary means by which they got relief. We’re a little slow here in the U.S. because we have to “prove it,” and prove it by our own studies. But now there are more than 2 dozen studies confirming the benefits of acupuncture for back pain. When you begin to look at research done in other countries, the number of studies is truly amazing, and it just leaves no doubt.

Where the questions continue, is exactly how acupuncture works for low back pain (by the way, that also includes, mid and upper back pain, sciatica and neck pain as well). There are several suggested theories: Acupuncture triggers the release of chemicals, opioids, in the brain that diminish pain and help the person relax. Acupuncture also helps reduce muscle spasms, inflammation and swelling associated with an injury. Acupuncture stimulates the release of neuro-transmitters and neuro-hormones that alter nerve impulses and organ function to speed up the healing process. Most people find that receiving acupuncture treatments is extremely relaxing and calming. They may have come in stressed to the max, but they leave feeling calm, in control and with a smile on their face.

Acupuncture has a positive effect on immune system function, which, amongst other things, is responsible for healing. It releases natural pain-fighting endorphins and may also alter the perception of pain. These studies have also been verified with MRI’s and SPECT scans. Most studies, although positive, underestimate the power of acupuncture in relieving pain because in an actual clinical setting, acupuncture treatments are customized to the individual patient, working on other conditions the patient may have as well.

When coming to see an acupuncturist, you can expect to make a few adjustments in your lifestyle. Acupuncturists encourage overall health, including proper dietary principles, exercise, hydration, and other supportive measures. After all, if you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, well…

If you are tired of being in pain, whether back pain, or any other type of pain, or if you’re tired of popping pills to relieve it, consider acupuncture. It works!

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Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’Alene clinic. Visit Dr. Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Dr. Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Dr. Carling can be reached at (208) 765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.

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