Acupuncture for Back Pain
Viewed as a non-traditional method, acupuncture can help manage lower back and neck pain. Patients usually seek more traditional forms of relief, such as physical therapy or chiropractics, before seeking out acupuncture. However, more and more physicians are recognizing the treatment for back pain as a legitimate option for pain relief.
The Origins of Acupuncture
With origins in China, acupuncture predates recorded history. Interestingly enough, the Chinese studied health and disease purely from observing living subjects. Because of cultural taboos at the time, dissection was a forbidden practice in China. Archaeologists discovered sharpened needles made from bones and stones. They thought these to be instruments of the treatment. Historians found the first documented organized system in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. During the Mind Dynasty, publications describe the acupuncture procedures of using needles to modify the flow of Qi energy. As time went on through the centuries, this method came to be seen as superstitious and unreliable. The Chinese government even outlawed it at one point.
Treatment in the Western World
The treatment spread to the Western world over time with different countries adopting it as a form of modern, if not exactly reliable, medicine. Eventually, an NIH consensus conference reported that acupuncture was an effective form of treatment for a limited range of conditions. In the last decade of research, patient reviews have provided some evidence of acupuncture’s reliability treating back and neck pain, dental pain, headaches, and nausea. Researchers are conducting studies to test if treatment would benefit mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Western medicine experts challenged the traditional beliefs of energy transferal. A neurological model replaced these beliefs, speculating that needles stimulate nerve endings which in turn alter brain function. When a specific nerve is stimulated, that nerve sends signals to the brain that can increase the pain threshold.This means the patient feels less pain. Another hypothesis exists. It says that acupuncture reduces pro-inflammatory markers in the body. Pro-inflammatory markers are proteins. Reducing these proteins can increase energy and enhance the immune system, which can help decrease inflammation.
Acupuncture in Less Common Treatments
Scientists are researching how treatments can help nerve damage. If successful, acupuncture could help those who suffer from chemo-induced peripheral nephropathy, a condition that causes numbness in the hands and feet. The idea is that the stimulation from the needle will urge the brain to initiate nerve growth. This helps the nerve regenerate. Furthermore, some fertility treatments are used in conjunction with acupuncture methods. By naturally increasing the hormone levels, fertility drugs sometimes become more effective.
Although not typically covered by Medicare, some plans available do offer benefits for acupuncture. Contact a representative to see if a plan in your area has this additional benefit.
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