How many acupuncture visits for treating lower back pain? is a common question asked by me for many back-pain sufferers that come seeking help in my acupuncture office in Ridgewood New Jersey.
There are several factors that go into answering the question of “how many acupuncture visits for treating lower back pain?
What is the Cause of lower back pain? -Disc or muscle?
Severe pain caused by a disc herniation for example requires more acupuncture treatments to successfully reduce and eliminate pain than say a back-spasm situation. The cause of the back pain is a major factor in determining how many visits you will need.
Is the lower back pain only affecting the muscles or is it affecting the disc. 85% of pain episodes are due to muscles ligaments and arthritis only a small percentage of patients have herniated disc and even a smaller percentage that require surgery according to most orthopedic doctors.
However, the more that is involved in your back pain, the longer it can take to treat the problem. Disc problems can take longer than muscle spasm as a general rule.
How long have you had the back pain?
If you have a history of your back “going out” or if you developed back pain only once with no history of back pain in the past, it can make a difference between the amounts of acupuncture treatments needed. Generally, people with a history of lower back pain, may need more treatments. This can happen if there are years of chronic spasm set in place in the muscles so the muscles have a “memory” of spasm that has taken years to develop. This is why the pain gets aggravated more easily. The history of back pain makes the pain more chronic and therefore possibly needing more treatment than a fresh short-lived injury. These lower back pain types typically have had aggravation of their lower back pain “going” out from time to time, sometimes horrifically, to the point where medication and even cortisone injections were employed in the treatment of the pain.
Does anything help alleviate your back pain?
Listening to what triggers your back pain and what alleviates back pain in the intake. People whose back pain is worse with standing can have more nerve like problems. Numbness and shooting like sciatica pains mean the nerves are affected, not just the muscles.
Also are there any positions or remedies that alleviate the problem at all. Things that can alleviate back pain show that the back is more amenable to acupuncture and need fewer visits. This points to a more minor type of a back-pain problem than those that do not get alleviated with any remedies.
Positive tests on a Physical Examination
During an initial evaluation of your lower back pain, I check the nerves using special orthopedic tests that hone in on specific nerves, reflex testing, and muscle testing. If any of these tests replicate the pain, then we can pin point the problem. I also look for spastic tight muscles that cause you to say “ow” or flinch in pain. We are looking to find out much of the problem is a muscle problem, a nerve problem, or a disc problem or a combination of all three. Taking the time to go through these non-invasive movements of your body gives me a lot of data before any treatment is started. It can help me answer the question “how many visits” because it uncovers what is actually causing the pain? Spastic muscles? Disc? Nerve? People with no positives on any of these orthopedic tests may show a more minor type of back pain and thus need less care than those who get more of these examination movements coming up with more responses and triggering of pain.
Severity of Pain
Generally speaking, How Many Acupuncture Visits for treating Lower Back Pain?, we must factor in the severity of the back pain. If your pain is severe, I mean mind-numbing and seriously interfering with your life, then more acupuncture is needed to treat this at the onset. This is important in initially controlling the pain. Treating two or three or even four times a week for 2 weeks, initially, can really double your response. It is important to treat more frequently at first, so as to get the pain down from 100% to a 60-80% in those first two weeks. If that can be done then acupuncture can be reduced to twice a week to get the pain reduction that you are really looking for.
Rate of Response
Another way we can gauge how many acupuncture visits you need to treat your lower back pain, is based on your rate of response to treatment. If you are responding quickly, regardless of the cause of the pain, then you will need fewer treatments than if you responded more slowly. This sounds simplistic, but the proof is in the pudding and is extremely helpful in determining your rate of response and the best way is to find out how fast or how slow your rate of response is. This can help the acupuncturist gauge how many visits you will need after the “trial run” is over.
If you are not responding at all, which means you are seeing no pain relief whatsoever, more testing should be done to see if you have a structural problem that is compressing the nerve such as degenerative disc disease or severe spinal stenosis. Acupuncture needles can overcome pain, reduce swelling on the nerve. Acupuncture cannot help work around a structural problem that needs to be fixed surgically. This last case is rarer than most body pains.
Finally, we need to find out what you are doing to aggravate your pain. Do you constantly engage in your workout routine that aggravates your lower back? Lack of stretching your back. Sitting or standing for long periods at your job can shorten muscles and create spasms to the lower back? What other repetitive motions are you doing that could be damaging and hurting your back. Uncovering what you are doing to aggravate your back also factors into the number of visits you will need. I had a body builder come in for lower back pain. He was obviously worsening his lower back pain with the weight lifting but he could not seem to give it up. I told him, he can be treated successfully, but he would have to stop squatting and deadlifts for a while. He refused. This simply meant we were going to do a lot of relief work, until he could stop those exercises. Treatment for him was obviously longer as a result.
Getting enough acupuncture treatments to do the job
Finally, an overlooked factor in treating back pain is getting enough acupuncture to do the job. If your pain is above a 5 out of 10 and the pain occurs on a daily basis getting treated 3 to 5 times a week is way better and more effective than treating only once a week. You will get the best results from acupuncture if you don’t wait for the pain to reassert itself to the same levels. This requires more frequent treatment at first and as the pain dies down, less treatment later. The key to successfully treating the lower back pain is to treat regularly and consistently so we can get the body’s natural anti-inflammatories into the back area. And we need to do this regularly, to get pain levels down fast. If you committed to two to four weeks of consistent acupuncture which means three times a week, you will more than double your results. People who try “a session” are really not helping their backs. The acupuncture needles, signal to the brain to enhance blood flow to the lower back to pump your body’s natural anti-inflammatories in the area repair the local area, reducing the pain. Treating more frequently at first will help you to need less treatment later on. It is the frequency of treatments that can quite down pain more significantly than sporadic treatments. The momentum of treatments causes the pain to be treated more effectively.
To answer the question, How many acupuncture visits for treating lower back pain? you have to weigh in on the factors mentioned above.
Pain is a strong motivator to get people to try things they normally wouldn’t have considered doing in the past. But when you are desperate for some relief, you start to think out of the box. If you are suffering from pain and you would like to try a more natural, non-drug approach, feel free to call me or email me to see if I can be of help to you. Stop living with your pain and get pain-free. I look forward to speaking with you. If you’d like a consultation, we can set up a consultation to see if this is a good fit for you. Call now at 201-444-7150 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.