Lower back pain is a very common complaint with people of all ages and most people will experience some form of lower back pain at some point in their life. It ranges from mild aches and tension, right through to chronic extreme pain and sciatica.
Regardless of the severity, lower back pain can affect your everyday wellbeing, including sleep, movement and exercise and even your mood. The lower back is under a lot of stress from the weight of the upper body. The spine supports all the upper body weight, which consists of over 30 small bones called vertebrae, with cartilage, known as a disc, between each vertebra. The discs act as shock absorbers and prevent the bones from rubbing.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
There are several causes of lower back pain but here are some of the most common:
- Age and general health – lower back pain becomes more common with advancing age, loss of bone strength in older people can lead to fractures and being overweight puts unnecessary stress on your body and make you more prone to injury.
- Muscle and/or ligament damage – this is a very common cause as it’s easy to tear or pull a muscle or ligament with simple movements or exercise. It can happen suddenly, such as an awkward movement or it can develop slowly from repetitive movements like repeated heavy lifting.
- Joint and disc issues – with age, the discs gradually shrink, or they can tear. Pressure on the discs can lead to a herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, in which the centre of the disc bulges. The material inside the disc can press on sensitive nerves, resulting in pain.
- Poor posture – while either sitting or standing, slouching or leaning too far back can cause lower back pain. The pressure on your spine can disperse incorrectly, weakening tissues and putting stress on joints and discs.
- Arthritis – inflammation in the joints in the spine or between the spine and the pelvis is known as arthritis. Usually it is due to wear and tear but may also come from autoimmune disorders or infection.
- Sporting injuries – certain motions while playing sport can put strain on your back muscles and cause injury which results in pain. Sporting back pain can be caused by a specific event or repetitive minor injuries over time.
- Stress – when you’re stressed, cortisol and adrenaline are released and leads to an involuntary tightening of muscles down the spine. This prolonged tension can lead to back pain.
- Depression or anxiety – these disorders can cause fatigue that prevents you from exercising. This can mean core muscles can weaken which puts pressure on the discs, joints and ligaments and therefore making you more susceptible to strains and other lower back injuries.
Acupuncture Treatment for Lower Back Pain
Standard treatment options for lower back pain include rest, management of the symptoms such as taking breaks from the movements which are causing pain, rehab exercises, medication and even surgery for chronic pain.
Another popular treatment method for pain is acupuncture. Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics such as Village Remedies offer acupuncture therapy for a range of ailments including lower back pain. It is a safe procedure, backed by extensive research and may even be more effective than some medications – just ensure you visit a qualified, certified therapist.
Acupuncture involves first assessing the muscles and structure that are causing or contributing to your lower back pain and then those areas are targeted. Then clinic staff insert fine acupuncture needles into points on the body which stimulates a therapeutic response – for lower back pain, needles can be used on lower back points but are typically used below the elbows and knees. The needles do not cause harm or discomfort.
Improvements in pain and/or range of motion are monitored immediately, during treatment. Some massage techniques may accompany the needles if the therapist deems it helpful. Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, releases opioid-like chemicals in the body, relaxes tight muscles, improves circulation and reduces pain.
Chinese herbal medicine is another option and involves Chinese herbs being mixed into a formula that work together to help manage a range of health problems including pain. They can be tailored to your situation to assist with your lower back pain, while also reducing inflammation, and improving circulation, digestion and sleep so your body is healing better overall.
To get you up and on your feet, living your life pain free, consider trying acupuncture to help with your lower back pain. It could be the best thing you ever did!