Back pain affects most people at some point in their life and is recognised as being a major cause of absence from work in the UK. It includes pain in the neck, upper and lower back down to the hips.Whiplash, slipped disc and sciatica are all familiar terms used to describe the signs and symptoms of neck or back pain.
Causes of back discomfort or pain can be due to muscle tightness, ligamentous and postural strains, pelvic problems, arthritis and inflammation or injuries to the vertebral column including the disc and facet joints(which run down the back of the spine).
The pain may be of traumatic onset often involving acute inflammation, usually worse in the morning, or it may have developed over time for no apparent reason.
Sometimes a nerve can become trapped around the spine or in a tight muscle causing symptoms such as pain, pins and needles or numbness in the legs or feet. This is commonly referred to as ‘sciatica’. Similar symptoms can also occur in the arms in the case of neck pain.
A qualified healthcare practitioner should be able to identify the cause of your problem and in the majority of cases, the right therapeutic intervention can help to restore balance to your body.
Traditional Treatments for Back Pain
Osteopathy is a system of assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, the most common being back pain. Upon a postural assessment, the osteopath will identify certain parts of the back/body which require attention. This may be a tight muscle or a constricted spinal joint for example.
Using a range of manual techniques, which affect muscle, ligament and joints, balance is restored to the posture which minimises strain. By stimulating blood supply, damaged tissues are nourished, and optimum conditions allow the body’s own healing processes to take place.
Osteopathy is endorsed by the NHS for the treatment of low back pain following recommendations from NICE(National Institute of Clinical Excellence).
Acupuncture is a first choice treatment for back pain.
Acupuncture can help back pain by:
- providing pain relief - by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord .
- reducing inflammation
- improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling and bruising.
- reducing the use of medication for back complaints.
- providing a more cost-effective treatment over a longer period of time (Radcliffe 2006;Witt 2006).
- improving the outcome when added to conventional treatments such as rehabilitation exercises.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on best practice now recommend a course of acupuncture as a first line treatment for persistent, non-specific low back pain.
Acupuncture is part of a comprehensive system of medicine and has been used over many years by people for a broad range of symptoms and conditions, both acute and chronic.
Chinese medicine (of which acupuncture is a part) has its own diagnostic system through which to understand the signs and symptoms and together with a western understanding of health, trauma, injury and disease enables the Acupuncturist to provide a truly individual treatment.
Acupuncture treatments are directed both at reducing symptoms and also resolving the underlying imbalance for a more lasting effect.
Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional medicine and is suitable for people of all ages, including women in pregnancy.
Research fact sheets can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/category/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions.html including those about Back pain, Chronic pain, Neuropathic Pain, Sciatica and Sports Injuries.