sciatica

Treating Back Pain with Acupuncture

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
About Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical treatment. Eight out of 10 people have experienced some form of back pain in their lives according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. In a given three month period, 25% of adults in the US will experience back pain. We definitely see this here at Beach Community Acupuncture, where we treat back pain in some form at least 5-10 times every day.
Symptoms vary, depending upon the underlying cause. Pain may be dull or achy, sharp, burning or stabbing. There may be associated pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the hips, legs or feet. Likewise, the pain may be mild- more an annoying sensation than anything- or it may be so severe that the person is unable to stand up, sit down, or make any movement without excruciating pain.
Back pain may be acute or chronic, and is treated differently depending upon the cause.
Acute back pain comes on suddenly, and is more quick to respond to treatment. On its own, acute back pain usually resolves in several days to a few weeks. This pain may be the result of trauma (e.g., a car accident, or a fall during sports). We commonly see sprains (overstretched ligaments in the back) and strains (torn muscles caused by a sudden force).
Chronic back pain persists longer than 3 months and may be due to arthritis or long-term wear and tear on the spine. Other possible causes include:

A herniated disc, which can push against the spinal nerves, often causing radiating pain (aka radiculopathy-sciatica is a good example of this);

Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space [...]

Successfully Treating Neck and Back Pain in Recliners

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

A lovely woman recently stopped into BCA. She lives right nearby and decided to come in to ask about how we would handle her neck pain. She asked a lot of questions and seemed willing to try a treatment here, but not without thoroughly checking us out. Her most pointed question was, “Where would you put the needles?” I told her that it would depend, just a little, on where her neck hurts, how deep the pain is, etc. But I said, “I won’t put the needles in your neck.”

And she smiled for the first time.

I briefly said that there are two basic approaches for treating pain. One is to needle where it hurts, and make a change right there in the local pain spot, enough to make it better.
That’s not usually what we do here, I said, in part because we can’t get to every painful spot when people are in recliners. But also because our approach works! We needle into points away from the painful area, often in the arms or legs. There are many ways to apply the system, and different acupuncturists will do different things.

She didn’t care about any of that. She was sold when I told her that acupuncture can effectively treat neck pain without ever putting a needle in her neck.

She had already given that a try. Her insurance covered a course of six acupuncture treatments. Each time, her practitioner put the needles right where it hurt. And then her neck hurt even more. And, she said, “I forced myself to go to every treatment, thinking eventually, it has to get better.” It never did. This is NOT to say that acupuncture treatments for pain are not effective when the [...]

Acupuncture and Sciatica Relief

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac.

Many people think of acupuncture in relation to helping ease general low back aches and pains, but did you know it is also incredibly effective in reducing and easing symptoms associated with sciatica?

Sciatica [sahy-at-i-kuh] is caused either by compression or irritation to one of the lower lumbar
or sacral nerves that lead directly to the larger sciatic nerve (located in the buttocks), or by compression or irritation directly to the sciatic nerve itself. Symptoms of sciatica often include low back or hip pain but will also consists of all or some of the following complaints:

▪ Deep gluteal pain
▪ Pain that radiates down the side or back of the leg, sometimes past the knee and/or into the foot
▪ Paresthesias–otherwise known as “pins and needles”, tingling, burning, or numbness in the leg or foot

The main causes of sciatica are as follows:

▪ Spinal Disc Herniation: This occurs when the gelatinous substance within the spinal disc protrudes out and presses on the surrounding spinal nerves, causing pain to those nerves directly and to associated nerves (such as the sciatic nerve).
▪ Piriformis Syndrome: A less common cause of sciatic pain, it is caused by the spasm of the piriformis muscle (which runs from the sacrum into the buttocks). The spasm of this muscle then compresses or squeezes the sciatic nerve.
▪ Pregnancy: Pressure caused by the weight of the growing fetus can lead to compression of the sciatic nerve.

How can acupuncture help sciatic pain?

▪ Acupuncture may change and improve circulation in blood flow leading to the sciatic nerve (Inoue, 2008).
▪ Acupuncture stimulates the nerves, thereby leading to a release of endorphins in the body. This then changes how the brain perceives and [...]