The Treatment of Neck & Back Pain with Acupuncture


There is a small chance anyone will reach the age of fifty without suffering back and neck pain. It is the most common complaint physicians hear. An aging population has led to an increase in incidence while the number of treatment modalities has not kept pace. That, coupled with poor standard of care has led to frustration with both health care givers and patients. 


Pharmaceutical interventions emphasis is on suppression therapy--stopping the feeling but not really assisting in the healing. Eastern medicine strategy allows  the body  to heal itself faster.  Depending on the length of time of the injury and the degree of damage determines the time and extent the body can heal itself.  Frequent Steroid or facet joint injections often create a situation that makes acupuncture respond much slower. 


Acupuncture is effective because it encourages the body to heal itself. It is possible to achieve healing up to 30% faster through Acupuncture-- leading to pain relief, tissue regeneration, and constitutional enhancement.  A vital health or constitution manifests with increased energy, mood, sleep and digestion . In other words, the better your general health, the faster one heals. The younger and more vital person heals quickly and acute injuries resolve faster. However, chronic long-term injuries, particularly with with an extensive complicated history may involve an appreciable amount of time for the body to heal itself.


In some chronic cases, general health needs to be improved before significant pain can be reduced-- the body is too worn out from medications, age, stress, pain and other factors to heal itself. Some severe cases of injuries or extensive disc disease due to aging may benefit to the extent there are more good days than bad days.


Let me give you a few examples: Recently a healthy 18 year old male surfer hit a wave wrong and limped into my clinic barefoot and hair and bathing suit still wet. He returned to the water that afternoon fully recovered. He recovered quickly because the injury was treated quickly and he is young and in excellent shape.


Later, the same day, an eighty year old gentleman arrived with a diagnosis of hypertension, spinal stenosis, sciatica and fatigue. There is no cure for the spinal stenosis however, over the next six weeks this patient was able to do more. He had more energy, his mood had lightened and he was able to walk further, This patient faithfully visited my office three times a week for the following six weeks. As acupuncture is cumulative, and this condition was severely chronic the results took time. Anytime your MRI report lists your condition "severe" or moderately to severe" you most likely will need some longer term maintenance. Every classic car needs a little extra care at times.


I have seen many people achieve great results through acupuncture, herbs and injection therapy used in conjunction with each other. I have also observed impatient folks stop treatment, in other words, not give it a fair shot and give up when they just started to get the ball rolling. In many cases, the symptoms roller coaster for a few weeks until the body settles down. Often, in the beginning the delicate sprouts of healing are undone by overdoing it or, unrealistic expectations causing the termination of treatment.


Through studying Chinese, Japanese and Korean techniques I have developed a unique protocol for neck and back pain. To achieve the maximum results I recommend acupuncture, herbs and injection therapy 2-3 times a week for six weeks, particularly for a chronic condition. I often do not judge the results for 6-8 treatments in chronic cases.


To aid in your healing, proper diet, sleep, stress reduction, movement, and nutrition is vital. The safe return to activity is important. Do not do too much too soon. The most common complication I see is someone doing too much too soon and undoing all the good results.


What to do along with your acupuncture treatments:


1. Anything that makes it better, do. Anything that makes it worse do not do! (Doing nothing often makes it worse--and doing too much is just as bad).

2. After an activity, if you feel worse later or the next day--you have overdone it. Do not be discouraged. Sometimes you have to test the waters.

3. You know you are on the edge of doing too much if the next day you are sore but recover.

4. We measure results intensity, frequency, rebound capacity, stress capacity and medication reduction.

5. Rarely after acupuncture you may feel worse, almost always you will feel much better the next day. This temporary aggravation is often a strong healing response. Cases without good imagine, surgical history or genetic abnormalities are more difficult to predict outcomes. 


5000 Years and Acupuncture Still Works!