Application Of Acupuncture To Treat Low Back Pain


More than 70 percent of low back pain sufferers are adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Back pain may be chronic, acute or sub-acute. There is a higher rate among women, and people who are between the ages of 35 and 55 are most likely to experience it. These are some common risk factors:

  • Poor posture
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Surgery
  • Repetitive strenuous motions

How Acupuncture Helps

This alternative puncture treatment involves placing tiny needles in the skin at different nerve points. The action stimulates the nerves, releases endorphins and alters the way the brain processes pain.

The needle therapy also releases other neuro-humoral and immunomodulatory factors. This helps improve circulation and reduce inflammation, which is a leading multi-faceted culprit in many cases of back pain. Additionally, this practice lends to smoother joint function and reduces stiffness in muscles. It may also aid in healing bruises.

Four Pillars Of TCM

TCM practitioners are trained to recognize the source of discomfort. The location of the pain determines where to place the needles for the most effective relief. To accomplish a diagnosis or starting point, the practitioner uses these four pillars in this order:

  • Looking at physical attributes such as the tongue, nose, eyes, ears and gait.
  • Listening to the patient’s voice for signs of problems.
  • Feeling the patient’s pulse and organs.
  • Asking the patient several questions about behaviors, physical ailments and other issues.

An Acupuncture Case Study

While experts say that this treatment’s effectiveness is not conclusive, there are plenty of studies showing promising results and long-term relief from chronic pain in the lower back. One example was a 28-year-old man who had herniated discs. He had gone through 30 rounds of physical therapy and received multiple injections to treat the pain. After this, the patient went to a TCM acupuncturist. He rated his pain at seven on a scale of one to 10. The TCM doctor learned more about his sleeping habits, what worsened the pain and his daily activities.

His treatment started in December 2014. The needle points were alternated between the left and right sides until May 2015, and the acupuncturist targeted the opposite side of the one feeling pain. In September 2015, the points were moved and were then targeted for a full year. While the first phase of treatment took place, his pain was reduced to a two on the scale. When he first started the second phase, it was rated as a five but dropped to zero by the end of September 2016.

Western Medicine And TCM May Be Aligned

It is also interesting to note that recent developments in Western society show a strong correlation between the 12 acupuncture meridians of TCM and Western fascial anatomy planes. The planes or meridians are lines through muscles and body tissue. These lines consist of myofascial or connective tissue. They must have straight continuity or go through slow and gradual changes in direction. If they change too quickly, the results may be inflammation, poor circulation and chronic pain.

These findings are significant because of the healing aspect that acupuncturists may provide. While pain medications mask the agony and physical therapy may only reduce it temporarily, this ancient treatment targets the source of pain. Always choose an accredited TCM doctor for treatment of low back pain.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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