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Acupuncture for Relief of Back Pain and Neck Pain

Back pain and neck pain are two of the most common reasons for people to visit an acupuncturist. Acupuncture is a safe and generally painless therapy which is often highly effective in treatment of back pain and neck pain. We offer compassionate and knowledgeable care for many conditions that can lead to these symptoms.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Modern research has shown that acupuncture can help the body to release its own naturally occurring pain-relief chemicals, called endogenous endorphins or endogenous opioids. Acupuncture promotes circulation and reduces inflammation, resulting in a reduction in pain. Acupuncture has also been shown to benefit patients with back pain in many other ways.

The effects of acupuncture on endorphins and anti-inflammatory chemicals help to explain the immediate pain-relief that people experience. However, these effects are not enough to fully explain the long-term benefits that our patients often receive from acupuncture treatment. Some scientific questions still remain about the way acupuncture works.

Our patients with chronic pain have often experienced long-term relief of pain, ranging up to a year or longer. In many cases, our patients have experienced what appears to be permanent pain relief from a series of between 4 and 10 weekly sessions. We have seen these results with back pain, neck pain, migraines, hip pain, shoulder pain, and sciatica (a type of leg pain).

Of course, every individual case is different, and some cases require more frequent sessions over a longer period of time. Some types of pain respond to acupuncture better than others. Some types of back pain are better treated by other methods. Within 2-3 sessions, it should be clear whether or not acupuncture is likely to be helpful for your symptom or condition.

We often recommend that patients have an imaging study such as an MRI to better understand the potential causes of the pain. If you have already had an MRI exam, it is helpful if you can bring this to your appointment at our clinic.

The most common causes of chronic back pain include muscular pain and disk herniation. For many patients suffering with these conditions, acupuncture can offer an excellent support on the way to healing and feeling good again. More than 90% of our patients with pain in the following areas have excellent results with our care.

Pain in the Lower Back and Hips

Pain in this region is common. We provide treatment for pain due to herniated lumbar disks, bulging disks, and a variety of nerve problems that can arise in this area. Typically, our treatment is very effective for patients with herniated or bulging discs. Relief usually begins within 24 hours after the first visit. Improvements become progressively greater over the following weeks of treatment.

Pain in the Upper Back and Shoulders

Pain in this region may occur due to muscular injury, misalignment of the spine, posture, or scoliosis. Many people find relief through the treatments we provide for these types of pain.

Pain in the Neck and/or Shoulders

Pain in this region may occur due to habitual tension of the neck muscles, shoulder injuries, or other conditions. Most of our patients with neck pain experience rapid relief in a single session, but this pain may recur depending on a range of factors.

How Does Acupuncture Compare with Other Treatments for Pain?

Orthopedists and primary care providers will often recommend cortisone injections to treat chronic back pain. Cortisone injections may help for a time, but they can have significant short-term and long-term side-effects, including bone loss, skin atrophy, tendon rupture, weight gain, acne, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar in diabetics, and reduced ability to fight infections. Frequent use of cortisone can cause cataracts and in some cases, even the death of bone tissue in the large joints (avascular necrosis).

Acupuncture helps in a majority of cases of chronic back pain, and does not have any of the side effects of cortisone. In fact, the most common side-effect of acupuncture is a feeling of being well-rested and relaxed. Acupuncture has also been shown to strengthen the immune system, improve blood sugar control, and reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.

Most health insurance companies recognize the value of acupuncture for back pain, and usually cover acupuncture for this purpose. Our patients include marathon runners, dancers, triathlon athletes, and people of all ages with minor or major aches and pains.
"In my experience, most types of back pain tend to respond well to acupuncture treatment. Back pain can have a variety of causes including injury, disc problems, muscle strains, post-surgical complications, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, or autoimmune disease (rarely). I have seen acupuncture help my patients with these types of concerns. Among these, the post-surgical complications may be more challenging to treat with acupuncture."

Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac.

You May be Interested In:

Contact Our Office
Conditions A-Z (list and web links)
Pain Relief
About Acupuncture
Before Your Visit
Information for Physicians
About Dr. Eric Windsor
Biochemical Research on Acupuncture
How We Work with Lab Tests and Imaging

About Maryland Holistics

Maryland Holistics LLC is the private practice of Dr. Eric Windsor, D.Ac., L.Ac. Our serene, professional office is located in Ellicott City, MD. Maryland Holistics has provided care to thousands of satisfied customers since opening in 2009. Dr. Windsor is a preferred provider in the CareFirst, Blue Cross Blue Shield, GEHA, and United Healthcare networks.

3525 Ellicott Mills Dr., Ste E
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Phone: 301-588-5858
Fax: 443-308-5690