How Does It Happen?
You tee off at the golf course and in the middle of what seems to be a perfect drive (or not so perfect), and you feel a sharp pain in your lower back. Or you are batting at home plate during a friendly softball game. Or you are deadlifting at the gym. Or working in your yard, moving boxes in your garage, or doing any number of things that involve lifting or twisting. In other words, from ‘whatever’. You probably now have a soft tissue injury of the lumbar or sacral area of your low back, one of the most common injuries reported to doctors.
Perhaps this is the first time you have hurt your low back. Or maybe you did so in the past and the old injury has flared up again. In either case, it hurts, and the muscles surrounding the injured area are stiffening up.
How can acupuncture help?
In my 30-plus years of practicing acupuncture, a significant percentage of my patients have come in for relief from low back pain, either acute or chronic. When it is chronic, an acute exacerbation has motivated them to call. In most cases, they have enjoyed significant relief.
The response to such injuries naturally depends on the severity of the injury as well as which tissues are involved. If only a muscle is strained, the progress will be faster—perhaps 4-8 treatments over a 2-4 week period. If a spinal ligament is strained, the course of treatment might be a few weeks longer, as ligaments heal more slowly than muscles. If a lumbar facet joint has been injured, significant relief can occur with 4-6 treatments, provided the patient is not overweight with a muscular imbalance causing an anterior tilt to the pelvis.
In the case of an acute exacerbation of a chronic problem, releasing trigger points in the low back musculature is often very helpful, as they are often active in chronically tight muscles. We treat these if they are an issue, along with the actual area of injury. If there are muscle imbalances that create a posterior, anterior or an asymmetrical tilt of the pelvis, I feel it is helpful to work on correcting them to aid healing and to help prevent future occurrences of pain.
Many of my back pain patients have generously contributed testimonials. I invite you to read some of them. For more information, check out two other articles on my website on back pain: Back Pain, Chronic—Four Ways Acupuncture Helps and Do the Chinese get back pain?