A recent study uncovered that acupuncture is even more effective in back pain relief than drugs such as ibuprofen. Acupuncture is a traditional form of Chinese medicine frequently used to treat pain. It consists of inserting exceptionally thin needles through the skin at tactical pressure points on the body.
A team of researchers from the Nanyang Institute of Technology found that acupuncture with herbs actually beats ibuprofen as a pain reliever when it comes to severe low back pain caused by lumbar sprain. The study took a randomized controlled trial to conduct an investigation into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM). After six days, the efficacy rate of TCM (acupuncture with herbs) was 96.97 percent while the group containing drugs for pain relief (ibuprofen) had an efficacy rate of only 72.73 percent.
Along with the acupuncture, an herbal compress was used on all the TCM patients. The pressure points that were focused on are SI3 (Houxi, Back Stream), LI4 (Hegu, Joining Valley) and Yaotongxue (N-UE-19, Lumbar Pain Point). The patients received their acupuncture and herbal compress treatments simultaneously.
After the needles were inserted, several techniques were applied once every 10 minutes, for a total retention of 30 minutes. The application of acupuncture occurred once a day for three consecutive treatments. The herbal compress (which contained 30-g of each ingredient) was made by placing the herbs into a cloth packet and simmering it for a half of an hour. Two small towels were then submerged into the herbal water and then left to cool before application. Next the towels were positioned to cover the lumbar region of the patient and changed every 30 minutes to one hour.
The group that used the pain relief drugs received 300-mg of time release ibuprofen. The capsules were taken orally in the morning and at night. The group was also given musk plasters for pain relief to be applied topically once each day on the area suffering from pain.
The efficacy of the study was calculated using recovery and improvement data combinations. The participants with no pain and normal activity in the spinal region were categorized as recovered. Substantial relief from the lower back pain and normal activity in the spinal region was categorized as improvement. The acupuncture group had an effective rate of 96.97 percent while the pain relief drug group only achieved an effective rate of 72.73 percent.
Acupuncture and herbal compress are successful methods for treating lumbar pain. However, acupuncture is also knows to provide other health benefits.
10 Additional health benefits of acupuncture
The study proved its efficacy in relieving lower back pain, but acupuncture is beneficial to many aspects of your heath. Here are 10 ways your body can profit from the application of acupuncture on pressure points:
- Head – 20 sessions of electroacupuncture over four weeks can reduce your number of migraines.
- Mood – A weekly acupuncture session over three months can help treat depression by regulating neurotransmitters in your brain.
- Nose – 12 acupuncture sessions can reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies and your need for antihistamines.
- Throat/Stomach – 10 sessions spread out over one month can help reduce acid reflux, soothe heartburn and speed up digestion.
- Heart – Regular acupuncture sessions can decrease stress and lower blood pressure.
- Sleep – Acupuncture can increase the production of neurotransmitters linked to sleep and relaxation, helping you improve your sleep and work toward an insomnia cure.
- Menopause (For Women Only) – After treatment, acupuncture can relieve the severity and regularity of hot flashes and help regulate body temperature for up to three months.
- Back – Two sessions each week for five weeks can help relieve back pain and discomfort for up to six months.
- Weight – Acupuncture can help lower obesity in adults over the span of two weeks to four months.
- Immune system – Certain pressure points can increase the activity of immune cells that help fight off infections.
Acupuncture is a great way to relieve stress, increase your level of health and decrease pain. However, another successful way to get back pain relief is to use herbal remedies.
Herbal remedies for back pain relief
Acupuncture and pain medicine are effective and proven means for pain relief. However, herbal remedies for back pain relief are becoming more common. Here are a few herbal remedies that can help with back pain relief:
- Capsaicin – this comes from hot peppers and helps some people with their pain. Over the span of a couple days, it depletes a compound that conveys pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system.
- Ginger – it contains phytochemicals that help prevent inflammation which can reduce pain in the muscles and joints.
- Feverfew – long used to help body aches (head, stomach, tooth), it’s also now used for arthritis. Use caution as some mild side effects have been noted and pregnant women should not use it at all.
- Turmeric – one of the main ingredients in curry, it is a spice used to reduce inflammation and help decrease the pain from arthritis and heartburn. If you have gallbladder issues, you should avoid turmeric and it should never be ingested in large doses.
- Devil’s claw – an herb from South Africa that helps with lower back pain and arthritis. Again, those with gallbladder issues (and stomach or intestinal issues) and pregnant women should avoid taking it.
6 Additional ways to prevent back pain
- Exercise – low-impact aerobics are best, such as walking or swimming.
- Build muscles and flexibility – core-strengthening exercises are useful and more flexible hips and legs improve back pain.
- Maintain a healthy weight – being overweight strains muscles.
- Practice good posture – using proper body mechanics to help maintain a neutral pelvic position. Try alternating feet or using a low footstool to take the pressure off.
- Sit smart – correct seat support is key to maintaining a normal curve in your spine, also be sure to frequently change positions.
- Lift carefully – try not to lift any weights, but if you do make sure your legs are doing all the work by keeping your back straight and only bending at the knees.
Acupuncture is a method of pain reprieve that has been used by traditional Chinese medical practitioners for years and, thanks to this study, has now been proven as a method for relieving lower back pain. If acupuncture is not the right path for you, there are plenty of other herbal remedies and daily practices that can help decrease your discomfort and prevent future back pain.
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