Seattle Acupuncture &  Pain Management 

916 E Miller St    Seattle, WA 98102     Phone: (206) 459-3704  

Conditions Treated » Back Pain

Acupuncture for Chronic and Acute Back Pain

 

Back pain or low back pain is not a specific disease, it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. Many people suffering with low back pain, despite a thorough medical examination, are told there is no specific cause ofthe pain that can be identified.

                Nerve root syndromes are those that produce symptoms of nerve impingement often due to a herniation (or bulging) of the disc between the lower vertebrae. Sciatica is an example of nerve root impingement, Spinal stenosis and Spinal degeneration are also examples.

 

         Trauma/Injuries: Car accidents and sports injuries cause spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can cause either short-lived or chronic pain. Sprains are tears in the ligaments that support the spine, andthey can occur from twisting or lifting improperly. Fractured vertebrae are often the result of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak, porous bones.Less commonly, back pain may be caused by more severe injuries that result fromaccidents and falls.


                Musculoskeletal pain syndromes: produce low back pain and include myofascial pain syndromes and fibromyalgia.

 

           Other Acquired conditions and diseases


         Many medical problems can cause or contribute to back pain. They include scoliosis, which causes curvature of the spine and does not usually cause pain until mid-life; spondylolisthesis; various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis; and spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. While osteoporosis itself is not painful, it can lead to painful fractures of the vertebrae. Other causes of back pain include pregnancy; kidney stones or infections; endometriosis, which is the buildup of uterine tissue in places outside the uterus; and fibromyalgia, which causes fatigue and wide spread muscle pain.

 

        Infections and tumors: They are not common causes of back pain, infections can cause pain when they involve the vertebrae, a condition called osteomyelitis, or when they involve the discs that cushion the vertebrae, which is called discitis.Tumors, too, are relatively rare causes of back pain. Occasionally, tumors begin in the back, but more often they appear in the back as a result of cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body.

 

 

Although the causes of back pain are usually physical, it is important to know that emotional stress and diet can play a role in how severe pain seems and how long it lasts. Stress can affect the body in many ways, including causing back muscles to become tense and painful.

 

How can acupuncture help back pain?

 

Treatment begins with thorough orthopedic testing to determine a correct diagnosis for your specific symptoms. The acupuncturist will then insert very fine needles in acupuncture points that can be located anywhere on the body. In subsequent visits, your acupuncturist may apply electo-stimulation to certain needles. Your acupuncturist may perform Tuina which is treatment specific massage to the painful area. Sometimes your acupuncturist may apply Cupping or Moxa to the area.

 

Western Theories on the Effects of Acupuncture on the Nervous System

Over that last few decades acupuncture hasbeen scrutinized by many because there has been no specific scientific proof to explain how exactly acupuncture works. Many theories have been suggested but the generally accepted explanationis that opioid peptides are released in the body during an acupuncture session. Opioid peptides are comprised of endorphins, enkephallins, and dynorphins, which are alltypes of neurotransmitters, and are found in neurons throughout the body. Opioid peptides are thought to be closely involved with the perception of pain in the central nervous system. This hypothesis describes that pain is felt when the nervous system gets trapped in a kind of negative feedback loop. This can occur when the brain’s ability to receive and register the pain signal is blocked preventing it from releasing endorphins or if the pain is originating from a different source than where the body actually perceives the pain. In the later case, the root cause of the pain remains damaged and continues to cause pain even after the body has presumably released endorphins to the one area, but not the original source. Acupuncture needles trigger the release of opioids in the nervous system by drawing attention to the problem area, either directly or indirectly. After the afflicted area can move and operate freely without the hindrance of pain and the pattern in the nervous system that was creating the pain is finally broken, the area will be able to begin to heal naturally. 


Another theory for how acupuncture affects the nervous system called "the gate theory" proposed by R. Melzack, P.D. Wall explains that neuronal impulses transmitted through the nervous system between neurons which the brain is able to interpret and perceive as pain impulses.  However, if the neurons in a damaged area produce too many pain signals at once, it closes down, or closes itsgates.  This closing of its gates blocks further impulses from reaching the brain. Similar to playing pinball except the ball never makes it back to the starting pin.
  
Stimulation by acupuncture needles interrupts the continuous signals within the neuron(s) generating the constant pain signals.    
 

 

 

Call (206) 459-3704 to schedule an appointment to interrupt those pain signals or book online.