Back pain affects 70% of Americans in their lifetime and is currently the leading cause of disability. With the limited options typically offered for pain management by medical professionals, many of those who suffer from back pain find themselves depending on prescription painkillers, despite their many negative side-effects and the risk of addiction with long-term use. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is a non-narcotic and VERY effective treatment for chronic back pain – and it’s a treatment method that we use frequently at The Kaplan Center.
Acupuncture involves the placement of fine needles on the body for the purpose of reducing pain and treating various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. It is thought to work by blocking pain messages to the brain with competing stimuli through the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – and the secretion of neurotransmitters, which affect one’s perception of pain.
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While acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, it is also standing the test of modern research. In 2007 the results of a large study of over 1,100 patients with chronic back pain was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. After 10 treatments, the group that received acupuncture had a 47% improvement in pain and functioning after six months, compared to a 27% improvement among those who received more conventional care involving medications and physical therapy. (Unfortunately, while there are also studies focusing on spinal lumbar stenosis, they are inconclusive due to poor methodologies and research biases.) The American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guidelines in 2017 and the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in 2016 both recommended acupuncture in place of opioids as non pharmacological interventions along with massage therapy, spinal manipulations, and yoga.
At The Kaplan Center, a patient’s initial visit includes a complete health assessment covering the history of the pain, as well as other potential health concerns such as sleep, digestion, and additional musculoskeletal issues. A holistic approach is used to provide maximum pain relief and healing – even in complex cases of postoperative pain and arthritis. It is recommended to do a course of at least 8 acupuncture treatments, which may include adjunct treatments, such as heat therapy or “moxibustion,” Chinese herbal medicine, and electro-acupuncture. Most patients report benefits after a few sessions though many notice changes immediately following the initial visit.
In sum, acupuncture is a low risk, nonpharmacological intervention that is effective in reducing pain, helping to improve the quality of life for chronic pain sufferers.
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Our goal is to return you to optimal health as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment please call: 703-532-4892 x2