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Acupuncture for Back Pain: Unleashing the Body's Healing Potential

Back pain is a very common health concern that affects most of the population worldwide. It can have various reasons why one is suffering from back pain, such as muscle strains, poor posture, structural issues such as herniated discs, bone degeneration, or underlying medical conditions.

In Canada, back pain is a prevalent problem, and it is one of the leading causes of disability and work absences. According to a 2019 report from the Canadian Community Health Survey, approximately 22% of Canadians aged 12 and older reported having chronic back problems.

How Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Acupuncture has become an increasingly popular option for those seeking relief from back pain. But how exactly does it work? The answer lies in the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the body's natural healing mechanisms.

  1. The concept of Qi: According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body's vital energy, known as Qi, flows through channels, or meridians, that run throughout the body. When Qi becomes blocked or disrupted, it can cause pain and other health problems. Acupuncture is believed to work by restoring the normal flow of Qi.

  2. The role of acupuncture points: Acupuncture points are specific locations on the body where the needles are inserted. These points correspond to different organs, systems, and functions of the body. By stimulating these points, acupuncture can help to restore balance and promote healing.

  3. Stimulation of nerves: Acupuncture needles stimulate the nerves in the body, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation. This stimulation can also release natural painkillers, such as endorphins, which can help to relieve pain.

  4. Regulation of hormones: Acupuncture can help to regulate hormones in the body, such as cortisol and serotonin, which can affect mood, sleep, and pain perception. By regulating these hormones, acupuncture can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can in turn help to reduce back pain.

  5. Increase in blood flow: Acupuncture can help to increase blood flow to the affected area, which can promote healing and reduce inflammation. Improved blood flow can also help to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the tissues, which can aid in the healing process.

  6. Individualized treatment: Each acupuncture treatment is tailored to the individual patient's needs. The TCM practitioner or acupuncturist will consider the patient's overall health, medical history, and specific symptoms to develop a personalized treatment plan that can be effective in reducing back pain.

Who is more likely to have Back Pain?

Older adults: As we age, our bones and muscles become weaker and more prone to injury, which can lead to back pain. Older adults are also more likely to have chronic conditions like arthritis, which can contribute to back pain.

Pregnant women: The extra weight and pressure on the spine during pregnancy can cause back pain. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also cause the ligaments in the pelvis to loosen, which can lead to back pain.

People who are overweight or obese: Carrying excess weight puts added strain on the back, which can lead to pain and injury.

People who sit for long periods: . Prolonged sitting, combined with poor posture, can strain the back and lead to chronic pain. Desk jobs, extended periods of driving, and excessive screen time contribute to the risk of developing back pain.

Athletes: Athletes who engage in activities that involve twisting or repetitive movements, such as golf or tennis, are at increased risk of developing back pain. Contact sports like football or hockey can also lead to back injuries.

Healthcare workers: Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who lift and move patients, stand for long periods, and bend over to perform tasks are at increased risk of developing back pain due to the physical demands of their job.

People with a history of back pain: If you have experienced back pain in the past, you are more likely to experience it again in the future. This is because back pain can cause changes in the muscles and ligaments of the back, making them more susceptible to injury.

Online freelancers: Freelancers who sit for extended periods of time, especially those who work from home, are at increased risk of developing back pain due to the sedentary nature of their work. Poor posture, lack of movement breaks, and improper work setups can contribute to back pain.

Individuals working in physically demanding sectors: Manufacturing and construction workers face a higher risk due to repetitive movements, heavy lifting, and exposure to vibrations or awkward postures.

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Poor posture: Slouching or sitting with poor posture can cause strain on the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to pain and discomfort.

Muscle or ligament strain: Straining the muscles or ligaments in the back, often from lifting heavy objects, can cause acute back pain.

Herniated or bulging discs: The discs that cushion the vertebrae in the spine can become herniated or bulge, putting pressure on the nerves in the back and causing pain.

Osteoarthritis: This type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joints wears down, causing bones to rub against each other and leading to back pain.

Spinal stenosis: This condition occurs when the spaces in the spinal column narrow, putting pressure on the nerves in the back and causing pain.

Scoliosis: This is a condition where the spine curves to one side, causing back pain and discomfort.

Osteoporosis: This condition causes the bones to become weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures and back pain.

Fibromyalgia: This chronic condition can cause widespread pain, including in the back.

Kidney stones: Kidney stones can cause intense pain in the back, as well as in the side and groin.

Infection: In rare cases, infections in the spine can cause back pain.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Back Pain: Why You Should Consider This Natural Treatment?

Acupuncture becomes very known as a natural treatment for various ailments, including back pain.

Here are some of the key benefits of acupuncture for back pain.

Non-invasive and drug-free: Acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment that does not involve medication. For those who prefer to avoid invasive treatments or are looking for drug-free options, acupuncture can be an effective alternative.

Reduced pain and inflammation: Acupuncture can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the back. The needles stimulate the nerves, which can help to block pain signals and release natural painkillers, such as endorphins. Acupuncture can also help to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to back pain.

Improved range of motion: Back pain can limit mobility and range of motion. Acupuncture can help to relieve pain and tension in the muscles, which can improve flexibility and range of motion.

Fewer side effects: Acupuncture has few side effects and is generally considered safe when performed by a registered TCM practitioner and acupuncturist. This makes it a viable option for those who may be sensitive to or have experienced negative side effects from medications.

Holistic approach: Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to treatment, considering the patient's overall health and well-being. This approach can help to address not only the physical symptoms of back pain but also the emotional and mental factors that may contribute to the condition.

Long-lasting effects: Acupuncture can provide long-lasting effects for back pain. Unlike medication, which provides temporary relief, acupuncture can help to address the underlying causes of back pain, leading to longer-lasting results.

Complementary to other treatments: Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, or medication, to provide a comprehensive approach to managing back pain.

How to prepare for your appointment?

We always recommend having a small meal one hour prior to acupuncture appointment and wear loose fitting clothes.

What to expect at your first acupuncture appointment?

Your acupuncturist will ask you about your medical history and symptoms.

Complete assessment includes an active and passive range of motion tests, pulse taking and tongue inspection, palpation especially on the area of concern will be performed.

Followed by the treatment, where you will be asked to lie in a prone position. Your acupuncturist will insert the acupuncture needles into specific acupuncture points of the body.

Depending on your condition, your acupuncturist may use an electric stimulator to attach to each acupuncture needle to help create an impulse, to amplify the treatment - these acupuncture points are believed to stimulate and induce our central nervous system which in turn releases endorphins (natural pain killer) into the muscle, spinal cord, and brain.

With or without the stimulator, acupuncture points, when administered properly both work effectively.

After the Acupuncture Treatment

For acute conditions, you may experience an instant relief after the first treatment and a follow up of about 3-4 treatments is recommended to relieve the pain completely and support the healing process.

For chronic conditions, depending on the severity of the condition and it depends on the lifestyle of the patient, it may take up to 3 treatments before noticing the relief. Chronic pain due to certain conditions like fibromyalgia, MS, Osteoarthritis may need a regular monthly appointment with an acupuncturist to manage the pain.

If you need to find out if this is the right treatment for you, book your initial appointment here

If you are still unsure and have more questions about how acupuncture can help with your pain, we are very happy to answer all your questions, email us at


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