Treating Back pain with Acupuncture

By Dr. Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

Treating Back pain with Acupuncture

According to statistics, nearly 8 out of every 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. This makes the condition common among everyday people. What’s more, if you have it, you won’t only be uncomfortable, but you are also likely to miss important appointments. In short, available stats indicate that most workers who miss work in the United States are a result of this health condition. More often than not, it is linked to injuries, activities and medical conditions. The disorder also can affect people of all age brackets, so everyone is vulnerable to it. However, years of studies have shown that back pain gets worse as people get older. Researchers attribute this development to previous occupation and degenerative disk disease.

Furthermore, it is broadly divided into lower back and upper back pains. As regards the lower back type, it revolves around the bony lumbar spine or region, which is the area that starts from the ribcage. In a similar vein, examples of the upper back type are aorta, spine inflammation, and chest tumors. It is noteworthy that the severe condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in big trouble. In other words, the disorder is as simple as strains to the muscle or ligaments.


Before getting into the causes, you need to understand the complex structure of the back. Humans are made of muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons, and disks. With the seamless interaction among those components, we can walk, lift and move heavy loads. With respect to disks, they are important cartilage-shaped pads that lessen the pressure around the spine. By and large, when something goes wrong with a part of the back, it culminates in this likely chronic disorder. To date, its etiology remains unclear, but there are ongoing studies to unravel its actual causes. In general, the damage to the back can happen because of strain or sprains, lack of exercise, medical conditions, not-too-good posture, and other contributory factors. Other rare causes include infection, tumor, fracture, and inflammation.

The Acupunctural Concept for Back Pains

Moving on, you need to understand the philosophy of acupuncture to better grasp how it lowers the health condition. For over 2500 years, the Chinese have had the therapeutic tradition of inserting sterile needles into certain parts of the skin. This is chiefly because those parts are connected by pathways known as the meridians. These meridians create the flow of Qi. Once these meridians are fired up, the process creates a balance in the flow of Qi. Well, the outcome of this is that pains will reduce significantly. In Western medicine, this is tantamount to stimulating the central nervous system. The easy-to-understand explanation is that the simulation releases essential substances into the spinal cord, brain, and muscle.

Lowering Back Pain with Acupuncture

How does acupuncture work for lower back pain? If you are going through an excruciating back pain, the solution to your problem may just be acupuncture. But what do experts say about this traditional remedy? In one study, researchers reviewed 22 reports to show that the ancient Chinese treatment can provide short-term relief to the disorder. Delving deeper into the meta-analysis, it showed that people who received the traditional Chinese remedy experienced improvement to their back pains more than those who received sham acupuncture. Given these findings, it is no surprise that the guidelines of the American College of Physicians encourage Western medicine practitioners to consider applying the age-long therapy on low-back pain when the conventional method proves ineffective.

Another large-scale study that supports the use of the traditional therapy was conducted in 2012, involving 20,000 participants. The brainchild of biostatistician Andrew Julian Vickers and his team, the meta-analysis concluded that patients who received real acupuncture experienced 50% improvement in their chronic pain issues.

In a nutshell, acupuncture works by:

  • Facilitating the relay of electromagnetic signals. This, in turn, leads to the flow of endorphins, which help to lower the excruciating sensation. In some cases, it may force the body to let go some immune system cells

  • Catalyzing the discharge of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones due to brain charge. To be precise, neurotransmitters often stimulate the nerve impulses. On the other hand, neuro-hormones ensure that the organs function optimally.

  • Triggering the discharge of natural opioids. According to medical scientists, the biological substances can ameliorate pain and enhance sleep in people.

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, it is important to identify some crucial acupoints for lower back pains. These include foot, stomach, hip, hand, lower back, and back knee points. In contrast, upper back pain has its acupoints and are found around the head, neck, shoulder, and upper back. The stimulation of these points leads to a huge relief. During the session, you will need about 2-3 treatments to improve the acute and chronic conditions.

As regards the advantages of acupuncture for back pain, the Chinese therapy fires up the nervous system. This, on the other hand, culminates in a soothing relief. Other benefits include relieving stress, expediting sleep and eliminating the need for medications. It goes without saying that the traditional remedy is safe. Now, you know the benefits. So, if you are facing that challenge, there is no gainsaying that trained acupuncturists can help treat you. Sure, we are here for you. All you have to do is contact our specialists now to learn more about how we can help you.


Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22; 172 (19): 1444 – 53.

McIntosh J. What is causing this pain in my back? Reviewed February 23, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2021.

Back Pain. Mayo Clinic. Accessed December 16, 2021.

Wheeler T. Sideshow: A visual guide to low back pain. Reviewed December 08, 2019. Accessed December 16, 2021.

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL et al. A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, stimulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009 May 11; 169 (9): 858 – 866.

What I should know about back pain? Versus Arthritis. Accessed December 16, 2021.

Lam M, Galvin R, Curry P. Effectiveness of acupuncture for nonspecific chronic low back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2023 Nov. 15; 38 (24): 2124 – 38.

Dunkin MA. Acupuncture for back pain. Reviewed August 25, 2020. Accessed December 15, 2021.

White A. Does acupuncture help back pain? Reviewed February 26, 2019. Accessed December 16, 2021.

Lamb S. Acupuncture for lower-back pain: Really? Reviewed February 6, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021.

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