Holistic Health Collective

Does Acupuncture Actually Work for Back Pain?

Below is an article about common low back pain issues that I see in my acupuncture clinic in Grand Rapids, MI. Non-specific low back pain can be a frustrating issue for many patients. Improvements may occur with one modality such as physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, home exercise, and or medications. However, if patients are experiencing chronic low back pain a multidisciplinary approach (using a combination of therapies) may be the most effective. See below for a summary of a recent article about low back pain and the use of acupuncture for pain relief.

Non-specific low back pain (NSLBP) definition: 

Lower back pain that is of unknown cause that cannot be found on imaging studies or have known inflammatory cause (i.e. fractures, radicular issues, arthritis, spondyloarthropathy).

An overwhelming 90% of individuals who have lower back pain will have an unknown cause.

A recent systematic review of of several randomized control trials showed a significant difference between those patients who followed standard of care (as prescribed by allopathic physicians) for low back pain versus those who engaged in a combination of care including acupuncture with standard of care.  Those who also used acupuncture had improvements in their pain scale along with their levels of disability.

Some of the studies reviewed also revealed that patients who suffered from low back pain who received acupuncture therapy reported a significant decrease in the medications they used after starting acupuncture.

Acupuncture and electroacupuncture is able to provide pain relief and a generalized sense of calm without additional use of medication.

Patients experiencing acupuncture usually have a minimal sense of pain from the placement of needles and at times can be painless in sensation. 

Reference: “Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” Medical Acupuncture Volume 34, Number 2, April 2022

About the Author:

Zhiling Trowbridge MD has been providing acupuncture to the community of Grand Rapids, MI since 2016. She received her medical degree at Wayne State University. She is board-certified in family medicine. She studied and taught acupuncture through the Harvard Structural Acupuncture Program. She is also certified in acupuncture from the Helms Medical Institute.  


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