Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. It is one of the most frequent causes of absence from work and one of the most expensive conditions in the United Kingdom. The fact that humans walk upright puts great pressure on the spine and the muscles that support it. Over time, factors such as disease, accidents, poor posture and over-exertion can lead to immediate and/or long-term back problems.

It is estimated that some 80% of us will suffer with back pain at some point in our lives. The majority of backache sufferers complain of pain in the lower back; the second most common site of discomfort is the base of the neck.

Back Problems Can Have A Variety Of Causes.

The nerve rich facet joints are a common source of back pain. These joints dictate the movement of the spinal column and can become irritated due to poor posture and or over-use, this can cause painful symptoms.

The discs between the vertebrae can also be a cause of back pain. These discs perform the job of shock absorbers. Certain conditions can cause the soft centre of the disc to bulge or herniated (“slipped disc”), putting pressure on the delicate nerves, this often causes pain in the limbs. Many people know that this can be caused by trauma such as heavy lifting but may not know that it can arise due accumulative stresses and general wear and tear.

Much back pain is muscular in nature. Muscle pain perpetuates what is known as the pain cycle, a phenomenon of which the back is particularly susceptible. In the pain cycle, pain causes a muscle to spasm, which may distort the discs, joints and nerves of the spine. This spasm leads to further pain, leading to further spasm, which compounds the original problem. If the nerves are irritated enough, it may cause pain to radiate down into the leg, similar to pain experienced via a herniated disc.

Research show that although back pain may resolve in two weeks, recurrence for low back pain can be as high as 50%, following the initial episode.

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What Can Acupuncture Do?

Acupuncture can play an important role in the reduction or elimination of back pain by reducing recovery time and preventing a chronic condition from developing.

Acupuncture relieves muscle spasm this helps to restore normal movement to the joints of the spine, vital to hasten recovery. Research has shown that acupuncture causes the body to produce natural steroids and promote the production of natural endorphins. Steroids decrease inflammation, while endorphins relieve pain. Both substances can play an integral part in the breaking up of the pain cycle.

By reducing acute back pain, acupuncture may also reduce the chances of chronic back pain from occurring. It can help avoid the need for costlier and more invasive surgical procedures. And if back pain can be significantly reduced with acupuncture, it also lowers the need for painkillers or other medications that can either cause unwanted side effects or prolong a patient’s condition.