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Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

In the heart of Asheville, NC at South Slope Acupuncture & Wellness we take an evidence-based approach to treating low back pain where we have a 90% success rate. Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for low back pain. The exact mechanisms of how acupuncture works to treat low back pain are not fully understood but are continuously being researched. However clinical application and understanding of anatomy and neurology provide results time and time again. Acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system, which can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being. Acupuncture has been shown to increase the production of endorphins and other neurotransmitters, which are the body's natural painkillers. This can help reduce pain and improve mood, which many of our patients experience under our care. Acupuncture also works by reducing inflammation in the body. Low back pain can be caused by inflammation in the affected area whether nerve roots or soft tissue and acupuncture has been shown to have a pain management effect due to its strong anti-inflammatory effect. Acupuncture may also work by improving blood flow to the affected area, which can promote the production of new cells and tissues and improve the healing process.

There is a significant body of research on acupuncture and low back pain. A number of clinical studies have investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of low back pain, with generally positive results. A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of 39 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that acupuncture was effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic low back pain, compared to no treatment or usual care. The authors concluded that acupuncture may be a viable treatment option for chronic low back pain (Mu et al., 2020). Another systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2019 found that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture, usual care, or no treatment in reducing low back pain intensity and improving function (Fuentes et al., 2020). A 2017 clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians recommended acupuncture as a non-pharmacologic treatment option for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain (Qaseem et al., 2017).

Overall, the exact mechanisms of how acupuncture works to treat low back pain are likely to be complex and multifactorial and may vary depending on the individual and the specific condition being treated. While the evidence for acupuncture and low back pain is not definitive, there is a growing body of research suggesting that acupuncture may be an effective treatment option for patients with low back pain. Acupuncture should be performed by a qualified healthcare practitioner who has completed the necessary education and training to use the technique safely and effectively.

If you are suffering from low back pain and want to get back to your daily activities, give us a call at 828-575-5904 or schedule online to schedule a consultation with our providers to see if acupuncture is right for you. Fuentes, R. C., Organ, B., Creech, J., Broszko, C. M., & Nashelsky, J. (2020). Acupuncture for low back pain. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 66(3), 186–187.

Mu, J., Furlan, A. D., Lam, W. Y., Hsu, M. Y., Ning, Z., & Lao, L. (2020). Acupuncture for chronic nonspecific low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2020(12).

Qaseem, A., Wilt, T. J., McLean, R. M., & Forciea, M. A. (2017). Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 166(7), 514.


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