By Stephanie Judge M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

Read her bio and watch her video here:

Back pain is probably one of the most common complaints  we see in our office, almost everyone at some point in their lives has experienced this in some form or another.

Actually, in my experience as an acupuncturist, this is one of the major reasons many clients come into our office for the first time to get relief for their pain.

The pain can be anywhere in the back from the upper cervical spine, mid back thoracic spine to the low back lumbar and sacral areas.

The causes of pain are many. The majority of clients have seen their Physicians and have had x-rays maybe even an MRI. They have either found no relief for their symptoms or are looking for alternative treatments.

As acupuncturists, we have many ways to treat pain.  We always start with a thorough assessment of the pain, having a different way of looking at pain than our western counterparts.  It’s important to us to know when the pain began, was it sudden, caused by a fall or accident, or did it start gradually over a long period of time.  Were there any major changes going on in their lives. Are they anxious, angry, sad, or grieving?

How are they dealing with this pain which has now invaded their lives and in some cases taken over their every thought?  Getting a picture of our client helps us to form our Chinese Medical diagnosis.

From there we can decide on a treatment plan. In our course of treatment, we will use, of course, acupuncture needles.  Acupuncture needles are not always placed where the pain is. This is confusing to some of our clients.  We depend on the meridians of energy that loop and run through our bodies from the outside to the inside.  They carry Qi which is  our bodies life / energy force.

Chinese medicine theory holds that a blockage in this flow of energy will cause dis-ease in our bodies which many times presents as pain. This blockage can be anywhere along these meridians.

For example one of the longest meridians in the human body belongs to the Bladder. It runs from the face, over the head, down the back along both sides of the spine, along the back of both legs and ends at the outside edges of the little toes. Pain in the back might be related to a blockage anywhere along any one of the 14 meridians within the body.

Seeing the body as a whole, not just a part opens up our perspective to where the cause of the pain might be. Taking the pulses, examining the tongue, observing the body and listening to our clients helps us to pinpoint any blockages.

The  Acupuncture points are like gates where we can access these blockages. Once opened the energy will be able to move and the pain will gradually fade.

Along with acupuncture needles, heat is often added either by the use of Moxa which is an herb that is used to heat the acupuncture points. It is applied directly to the point before needles are inserted or it can be applied directly to the needle itself.

Heat lamps are also used to warm the area since often pain is made worse by the invasion through the skin of cold and damp. Heat can also relax the surrounding muscles and aid in enhancing circulation.

A gentle electrical stimulation can be added to the needles to enhance the opening and moving effect.

Cupping is another modality used for pain and is especially helpful for the back.  Warmed or suction cups are used on painful muscle areas to stimulate blood flow and circulation  to the area enhancing the bodies ability to rid itself of waste and provide an opening for healing.

With the current debate regarding the use of opioids for pain relief and the dangers now publicized regarding overuse of NSAIDs and even Tylenol , acupuncture has been recommended by many leading authorities as a way to find relief for pain.

Along with relief of pain, many of my clients are surprised by what I call acupuncture’s “side effects”.  Which consist of ease of anxiety, improved immunity, profound relaxation and a general feeling of well-being.

Hope we see you soon in our office.