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|New Health Acupuncture Clinic
1. Acupuncture for low back pain
Back pain is one of the top reasons people seek medical treatment
because nearly 8 out of every 10 people will have low back pain at
some point in life. Among the more commonly used complementary
and alternative medicine treatment strategies, acupuncture is used
frequently in patients for low back pain. It is also the No. 1 reported
reason for patient to seek acupuncture.
During recent 3 decade, number of research publications on
acupuncture for low back pain have been increased by 30 folds.
Those research works provider planty scientific evidences to support
using acupuncture for low back pain treatment.
|Acupuncture for Low Back Pain and Sciatica
A 2015 literature systematically reviews 16 randomized controlled
clinical trials involved with 11682 patients. This review found that
acupuncture is consistently to provide superior pain relief for chronic
low back pain comparing with sham acupuncture, no treatment,
conventional treatment including physical therapy, exercise and
A 2016 literature systematically reviews 7 randomized controlled
clinical trials involved with 7958 patients. This review found that
acupuncture significantly reduced pain intensity immediately and last
12 weeks after treatment. This reviews also reported acupuncture
provided not only greater pain relief compared with medications
(nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, or
analgesics), but also improved body function.
A 2019 literature systematically reviews 31 randomized controlled
clinical trials involved with 6656 patients. The meta-analysis1
results indicated acupuncture is clinically superior to sham
acupuncture in pain reduction for patients with chronic low back
pain —defined as lasting longer than 3 months, comparing with
other treatments including sham acupuncture, no treatment,
transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, medications, usual
More than 52 % lower back pain patients are associated with
sciatica. Research have shown that acupuncture is an effective
treatment to relief sciatica.
A 2017 literature systematically reviews 14 studies published an
found that acupuncture obtains a better pain alleviating result for
sciatica. Right now, other two clinic trails investigated
acupuncture for sciatica are preforming. First study is a
double-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trial involved with
90 patients diagnosed with disc-related sciatica. This clinical
trial began at 2017 and aims using acupuncture immediate relief
of herniated lumbar disc-related sciatica. Other randomized,
blind, sham-controlled clinical trial is investigating effect and
neurophysiological mechanism of acupuncture in patients with
Sciatica is commonly due to a herniated disc compresses part of
the nerve root. How no-surgical treatment such as acupuncture
physically relief the compresses of herniated disc? Clinic
research and case reports have been well documented that
intervertebral herniated disc can spontaneous disappearance or
regression when patient no longer had leg pain or physical
findings of nerve root tension after no-surgical treatments. For
example, research conducted by Altun and Yüksel found the
patients with lumbar disc hernia had benefit from no surgical
treatment and bed rest. Radiologic improvement was observed
simultaneously on MRI scans. The average duration until
symptomatic recovery and/or regression of lumbar disc hernia
symptoms was 13.6 ± 5.4 months.
The MRI image above shows spontaneously disappearing
lumbar disc protrusion after no surgical treatment. This MRI is
from a case repot reported by Ushewokunze. Patient is 45-year-old
woman with a 9-month history of low backache and bilateral
sciatica. Her MRI scan revealed a large central herniation disc at
the L4/5 level (Figure A). After she received 2 months no-surgical
treatment, her symptoms had completely resolved. The repeat
MRI showed no major disc herniation or nerve root compression.
The disc prolapse that was present on the previous scan had
completely disappeared (Figure B).
The MIR image below dicated spontaneous regression of a
lumbar disk herniation after 6 month no surgical treatment. This
MIR is from a case report by Michael J. Monument. Patient is 57-
year-old man with left-sided leg pain of six months. MRI shown a
large left-sided paracentral disk herniation at the L4–L5 disk space.
Herniated disk compresses the traversing L5 nerve root, which was
consistent with the patient’s symptoms (Figure A). The After 6
month no surgical treatments, the patient no longer had leg pain
and physical findings of nerve root tension. The second MRI
showed substantial resolution of the herniated L4–L5 disk (Figure
It still remains unresolved that the exact mechanism of
spontaneous disappearance or regression of lumbar disc hernia
after no surgical treatment. Proposed mechanisms include
mechanical retraction of the herniated nucleus, gradual dehydration,
shrinkage of the disk, resorption of the disk, enzymatic degradation
of herniated disk material, neovascularisation and infiltration by
inflammatory cells such as macrophages, granulocytes, and
2. Acupuncture for sciatica
Because acupuncture’s effective for low back pain, The American
College of Physicians issued a clinical practice guideline
recommending acupuncture as a first-line therapy for acute and
chronic nonradicular low back pain along with other nondrug therapy
including stretching, heat application, massage, and manual spinal
The researches also found that neurophysiological mechanism is
involved in acupuncture treatment for chronic sciatica. Several
studies on neuroimaging showed some changes in morphology
and functional connectivity of the brain in patients with neuropathic
pain such as from herniated intervertebral disk and sciatica,
indicating decreased functional connectivity of the dorsolateral
prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex in chronic sciatica.
Acupuncture correlated with a reverse in the abnormal default mode
network. Another study showed that acupuncture treatments
recovered decreased functional connectivity of DLPFC and ACC in
patients with chronic sciatica.
1. Kim KW, Park K, Park HJ, Jahng GH, Jo DJ, Cho JH, Song EM, Shin WC, Yoon YJ, Kim SJ, Eun S, Song MY, Effect and neurophysiological
mechanism of acupuncture in patients with chronic sciatica: protocol for a randomized, patient-assessor blind, sham-controlled clinical
trial.Trials. 2019 Jan 16;20(1):56.
3. Mechanism of disappearance or regression of hernia disc
2. Case reports
Exercise is good for low back pain. We encourage people with low back pain to do exercise during acupuncture treatment.
But not all exercise is appropriate for someone with lumbar spine pain. Those exercises that flex the spine tend to increase
spinal compression and put greater stress on the disks and ligaments in your spin. Those exercises should be avoided.
4. Exercise for low back pain
A: Recommend Exercises during acupuncture
B: Avoid exercises during acupuncture