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  • Writer's pictureDr Bret Ellington DACM, LAc

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

The numbers seem staggering, but 80% of all Americans will seek medical care for low back pain during their lifetime. Some of us (my hand raised), seek help for low back pain multiple times. Bad back injuries can plague patients for their whole lives. Acupuncture is an effective modality for finding relief from that nagging back pain.

Low back pain can be from a wide variety of issues and the intensity can also range from that slight twinge to the horrendous pain that radiates down the leg, also known as sciatica. Some of the most common causes of lumbar pain are:

  • Muscle strain

  • Herniated disc

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Degenerative disc disease

  • Scoliosis

  • Spondylolisthesis

  • Arthritis

  • Spinal fractures

  • Osteoporosis

There’s still a bunch of other reasons for back pain including; fibromyalgia, tumors, kidney stones, piriformis syndrome, infection, etc….

With that extensive list, obviously there’s some things on there that acupuncture isn’t going to help with, but a lot of it can be greatly improved with acupuncture treatments. Having treated both acute and chronic low back pain, my patients have reported amazing results for both. Acute conditions resolving in 3-4 treatments and in some cases only one treatment was necessary. In chronic cases it typically takes more treatments. I’ve had patients claim significant relief from what was once debilitating pain that severely limited their mobility. A lot of this will also depend on the severity of an injury and how long the patient has had the injury.

It’s important to take the extent of the injury and whether or not it’s a chronic condition into account. A condition that’s been going on for years isn’t going to be fixed in a single treatment or overnight. Expectations need to be set that it’s likely going to take a few treatments to see a noticeable improvement and probably a few months to get to a point of 80-90% relief. Although, in these chronic cases, about 50% of patients do see a noticeable improvement in a single treatment. In the grand scheme of things, a few months of treatment is well worth it when a patient has been in pain for 5, 10 or 20 years.

Taking away the pain is important, but pain is also subjective. You may perceive a certain pain to be a 3/10, while it might be a 5/10 to someone else. Maybe even a 7/10 to someone. Also, sometimes people don’t remember how bad their pain was. That’s why, before the first treatment, I always ask the patient “what can’t you do now that the pain is stopping you from doing?” For some people it’s walking farther than 100 yards. For others it’s being able to climb stairs, carry their grandchild or ride a bike. When they reach their goal of being able to regain that mobility and they can feel the reduction in pain levels, then and only then do I feel it’s a successful case.

Whatever your goals, communicate them with your healthcare provider so you can both work towards achieving them. At Inner Balance Acupuncture, we’ve helped thousands of patients with back pain to live healthier, happier lives with significant to complete reduction of pain. Utilizing our services of acupuncture, injection therapy, red-light therapy and DMS (Deep Muscle Stimulation) are all safe and effective ways to help you reach your goal.

Call us at 720-361-6870 or go to to book your appointment.


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