Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle, Washington
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Pain | Get Beyond Back Pain with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Get Beyond Back Pain With Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Back pain and back injuries have gained a reputation of being hard, if not impossible, to treat. But while it's true that back injuries frequently become re-injured, back injuries and back pain can heal. One way to achieve healing is through a series of acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbs. "Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very successful methods of treating back pain," says Steve Given, LAc, clinical faculty member at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. "In many cases acupuncture is more likely than surgery or medication to solve the problem, and it does so without the side-effects or addiction-promoting tendencies of medication."

Alternatives to surgery?

Given suggests that anyone who has back pain should try all non-invasive treatments before resorting to surgery. "No one should have back surgery without trying everything else first, including medication," he says. "Many of our acupuncture patients are survivors of unsuccessful back surgery."

Acupuncture is one effective and non-invasive approach. However, you should not expect a quick fix. The longer you have had back pain and the more severe it is, the longer it can take to heal. Uncomplicated strains or sprains can resolve in a few months, especially if you receive treatment two or three times per week initially. But it can take many more months to heal a more complicated injury, especially if there is nerve damage.

How do acupuncture and Chinese herbs relieve back injuries or pain?

Acupuncture increases blood flow to the area, relaxes the muscles, relieves pain and inflammation and lengthens the muscles. The reason that lengthening the muscles is important, according to Given, is because people tend to contract their muscles to guard the painful area. And, if postural and non-postural muscles are injured, the large muscle groups often adjust to injuries and hold the spine at a misalignment. This will also cause pain. For this reason, chiropractic adjustments can serve as an effective adjunct to acupuncture and Chinese herbs, says Given. The spine sometimes needs to be realigned so that muscles can stop over-compensating. However, if you decide to get chiropractic adjustments, you should select a good chiropractor who incorporates massage into their treatments.

Chinese herbs work as an analgesic (pain-reliever), relax the muscles and minimize spasms. Chinese herbs also circulate blood and "qi" which is a term in Oriental medicine that refers to life-energy or life-force. Acupuncture treatments also clear out any blockages in qi and therefore can have benefits beyond healing the back.

Writer: Sydney Maupin, Staff Writer
Contributor: Steve Given, LAc
Date: 2003

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