Acupuncture: What It Is and How It Relieves Back Pain

Most people have at least a slight familiarity with acupuncture but they may not understand very much about how it works. For many people, just the idea of using needles to improve health or a physical problem is a daunting idea! Because there can be important benefits available to you from acupuncture, we’d like to explain how acupuncture works and what improvements are possible as a result of this treatment. 

Those Needles! 

When you think of the needles used in acupuncture, you shouldn’t compare them to the needles used to administer medications or draw blood. Those needles have to be hollow to do their job but acupuncture needles don’t. Therefore, they can be much thinner. Most acupuncture needles are roughly the thickness of a human hair. 

There is seldom any pain and sometimes no sensation at all when an acupuncture needle is tapped into the skin. There may be a little discomfort. During most treatments, the needles only penetrate the skin a few millimeters.

At Mattingly Chiropractic, we only use sterilized, single-use needles to eliminate any chance of the transmission of infection or disease. 

If you have concerns about needles, your concerns can be quickly alleviated by talking to a person who has received acupuncture treatment. When you understand the gentleness of acupuncture treatment, the benefits available from this system become available to you. 

What Does Acupuncture Do?

Eastern medicine has used acupuncture for thousands of years to relieve pain, improve health and normalize body functions. According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, the body’s energy travels on specific pathways (meridians). Placing these tiny needles at specific points on these pathways can unblock this energy which improves the function of systems such as the nervous, digestive, respiratory and muscular systems. 

Western medicine has a slightly different way of understanding the effect of acupuncture. Western science explains that placing needles in these points stimulates the release of natural chemicals that can reduce pain, normalize the release of hormones or otherwise influence the body’s ideal self-regulation. 

Whichever way you wish to understand acupuncture, both Eastern and Western medicine agree that acupuncture is beneficial for many different conditions that cause pain or poor function. We recommend acupuncture for many of our patients to help them with back pain. 

How Acupuncture Is Performed

Before starting your acupuncture treatment, we will learn about your overall health and your pain or discomfort. We’ll ask you a number of questions and observe your face, skin, way of talking and more. We may also ask you about your diet and sleep. This is important information to have to plan the correct acupuncture treatment for you. 

While you are lying down and relaxed, these very fine needles will be tapped into the appropriate points on the arms, legs, torso, face or other areas to improve the flow of energy through your body and the function of different systems. 

There will usually be five to 20 needles used at one time and they will be left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. The needles will then be removed, normally without discomfort. 

How Much Improvement Can Be Offered? 

A course of acupuncture treatments can provide dramatic improvements for many health conditions, including back pain. In a recent report, there was a young man receiving a series of acupuncture treatments for low back pain. He had previously received physical therapy, injections and oral medications to help with pain resulting from a herniated disc in his low back. Despite all this care, he still rated his pain at seven on a scale that goes up to 10.

The goal of his acupuncture treatment was to reduce his pain to zero, if possible. He received a series of treatments that reduced his pain down to a two, by his own description. He took a break from treatment for a while and returned four months later when his pain had increased to a five. After further treatment, his pain remained between zero and two. He decided to continue acupuncture treatment to maintain this improvement in the future. 

Providing Our Patients with the Benefits of Acupuncture

We are very pleased to offer our patients the benefits of this gentle type of Eastern medicine. We have seen many patients experience an improvement in mobility, function and well-being. Others can experience a reduction in neck and back pain. 

Do you have questions about acupuncture and what it might offer you? Please call us so we can help. 

If you are in the St. Louis area, call Mattingly Chiropractic at 314-635-1008 to schedule an acupuncture appointment. If you are outside the St. Louis area, many chiropractors offer this type of care in addition to chiropractic adjustments. You will probably find a practitioner who offers acupuncture after a few calls to local chiropractic offices. 

We would love to help you find relief from either chronic or short-term back pain and better overall function and we look forward to seeing you in the office soon!

By Mattingly Chiropractic, January 13, 2021