Is Acupuncture Good for Back Pain?

Acupuncture has been an alternative healing method for centuries and is considered a viable treatment for chronic pain.

Acupuncture for Back Pain

Acupuncture has been an alternative healing method that has existed for centuries. Originating from China close to 2,500 years ago, it has expanded its reach throughout the world. Nowadays, many also consider it as a viable treatment option for chronic pain. Here is how effective acupuncture for back pain is.

What it is

Before delving into acupuncture for back pain, it is essential to understand what this ancient healing technique is. Acupuncture is basically stimulating specific points in the body. Qi (pronounced as chi) or the life force is said to flow through certain points in the body called meridians or acupuncture points. When these meridians are stimulated, energy flow is improved and proper balance is achieved. So stimulation is done by inserting needle into these identified acupuncture points.

The science behind it

Multiple research does support that this healing method has its merits especially when relieving recurring pain. Most notable is acupuncture for back pain, neck pain, and even osteoarthritis. There also is a palpable link that shows this method is effective for providing relief for migraine as well. Similarly, there are other conditions that acupuncture may be used as an alternative healing tool include:

  • Stroke risk reduction
  • Sciatica or the pain caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve which affects the lower back, buttocks, legs, and knees
  • Sprain
  • Tennis elbow which is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the elbow to forearm muscles
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which causes pain and inflammation around joints
  • Allergic rhinitis is the congestion of sinuses which causes persistent sneezing and a runny nose
  • Dysentery or inflammation of the colon
  • Dysmenorrhea or pain experienced during one’s menstrual period
  • Chronic pain that affects spine, face, and teeth
  • Labor pain
  • Chemotherapy-caused discomforts such as vomiting, nausea, and headache
  • After care post-surgery
  • Dementia
  • Fibromyalgia which has arthritis-like symptoms
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Dementia, a brain condition that causes gradual cognitive decline

How it works

Science offers a more mundane picture of how acupuncture works. The meridians or acupuncture points, as research would show, coincide with the location of nerve endings, muscles, tendons, and tissues that, when stimulated, promote better blood flow and activates the body’s natural pain killers. Whether it is Qi or not, there is scientific evidence that proper stimulation of the body causes it to step up where healing is concerned.


Whether you want to utilize acupuncture for back pain or for any other reason, the method is considered generally safe for as long as you have a trusted and experienced acupuncturist. Make sure you do your research. Furthermore, here are some questions to ask if you want to try this ancient healing technique:

  • Are the needs really sterile?
  • Does the clinic utilize single-use needles?
  • Is the acupuncture clinic that you are going to of good repute?
  • Is its services well-recommended?
  • Does the clinic enjoy widespread following?
  • What is its success rate?
  • Does the acupuncturist have legitimate credentials to do the job?
  • How much will treatment cost?
  • Will your insurance cover the cost of such treatment?

Make sure you have preliminary discussions with the acupuncturist before you undergo the entire treatment. This will give you a feel of what to expect and if this is the clinic that you would like to have an acupuncture session in.

What to expect

Here is how a regular acupuncture session looks like:

  • Initial evaluation and treatment that may take an hour. Consequent session become a lot shorter.
  • Needles (extremely thin ones) are inserted in various acupuncture meridians.  Infection is very rare since most if not all acupuncture clinics utilize single-use needles.
  • People do not feel the needle insertion.  Initially, the acupuncturist will start with a low number of needles depending on your symptoms. A total of five to twenty needles are used per session.
  • You should expect some degree of pain when a needle hits a certain depth. Pain is very manageable though.
  • The acupuncturist might use heat or mild electrical pulses and apply them on the needles. Some might also move or twirl the needles after insertion but in a very gentle manner to avoid causing pain.
  • The actual treatment is usually twenty minutes at most. At this time, the needles remain in place.
  • Needle removal does not cause pain or any other type of discomfort.


Acupuncture for back pain and other chronic ailments may not be viable for people living with the following conditions:

  • Any type of bleeding disorders
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a pacemaker

Common Side Effects

These are some of the usual side effects of acupuncture:

  • Bruising
  • Mild bleeding
  • Soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle twitching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Emotional release

Acupuncture for back pain

How effective acupuncture for back pain is? Here are some facts that can answer this question:

  • Extensive research have shown the acupuncture is effective at relieving back pain.  In fact, when this type of treatment was introduced to a control group, immediate relief was reported but not in the long term.  It should be continuous for it to have long-lasting effects.
  • Acupuncture is considered one of the accepted alternative methods to treat low back pain as supported by the American College of Physicians
  • For it to really work, acupuncture should be done in conjunction with other medical care methods including medication and physical therapy if needed be

Worse case scenario

As mentioned earlier, acupuncture is generally safe. However, it is imperative that you hire a qualified acupuncturist. Acupuncture when not done right can also trigger the following complications:

  • Profuse bleeding
  • Punctured organs
  • Infections
  • Collapsed lungs
  • Injury to the Central Nervous System

This is the worst case scenario, however. You are well protected if you do enough research and also background check of the acupuncture clinic whose services you want to engage. Hence, doing due diligence will help you make an informed choice.

This age-old healing technique has its scientific merit. Whether it is acupuncture for back pain or for any other chronic ailments, it has been proven to provide immediate relief. Even more, it should not be used to take the place of proper diagnosis from a qualified health practitioner. Finally, acupuncture should be taken in conjunction with the usual medical intervention if you want to enjoy its maximum benefits.

Acupuncture for Back Pain

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