There are several factors that can lead to low back pain. Overuse and over-strain are the most common causes of back pain. But a sedentary lifestyle and excess weight, especially around the abdominal region, often leads to low back pain.
Oftentimes I’ll see patients who lifted a heavy object in a way that resulted in an acute low back spasm. But I’ve also had patients who have been dealing with low back pain since adolescence or early adulthood, despite the fact that they were healthy, active, and careful to avoid activities that exacerbated their back pain. These are the individuals who usually have another close relative with a history of low back pain. A recent study found that low back disorders can run in families, when other lifestyle factors are controlled. For instance, having an immediate family member with degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc increases your own risk for the same low back disc disorder fourfold.
When I treat low back pain with acupuncture in my clinic, I initially get a thorough health history for my patient. I do orthopedic tests to help determine the cause of the low back pain. By doing this, I can treat back pain appropriately and effectively by determining which structures are contributing to the pain. Muscles almost always need to be addressed in the acupuncture treatment, but I often need to address bone alignment and nerve pain or sciatica. Occasionally I will send a patient out to a specialist for an MRI or X-ray to rule out more serious causes of low back pain, such as a space occupying lesion.
Back pain responds very well to acupuncture. Acute low back pain can usually be addressed very quickly with acupuncture, generally in five appointments or so, whereas chronic low back pain may take several months to treat. Depending on what is appropriate for the individual patient, I typically combine acupuncture with some other modalities, such as herbal therapy, massage, cupping, or electro-stimulation.
Although my primary goal is to treat the back pain, I always work with my patients on preventative care once their back pain is controlled. I educate my patients on self-care tools to maintain their back health. Depending on the individual, these tools may be related to exercise, stress management, sleep, body mechanics, or any other root cause of the back pain.
If you are living with back pain, consider exploring what acupuncture can do for you. Do you live in Portland? Are you looking for a Portland acupuncturist? Please call me for a free consultation at 503.281.6909 or visit www.allandone.com. We can discuss how acupuncture can address your specific health needs.
Boynn McIntire is a Portland acupuncturist and owner of All and One Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic. All and One Acupuncture is located at 2163 NE Broadway, Portland, Oregon 97232. Boynn, pronounced “Bowen,” is passionate about holistic health care, and loves sharing the journey of healing with her patients.