Chronic back pain is anything but a new phenomenon. People have been straining and aching for as long as they have been standing and lifting. Because of this, Traditional Chinese Medicine developed two effective therapies for back pain—acupuncture and tai chi.
Both methods focus on qi, the life energy, and nature itself. By regulating the flow of qi, we can obtain optimum health—too much or too little can cause health concerns, including inflammation.
Acupuncture is a treatment that involves the insertion of tiny needles in specific points on the body designed to influence the flow of qi. These needles affect the brain and body in various ways, including stimulating the nerves that send the signals to the brain and spine controlling the central nervous system. This then releases hormones that suppress the pain and provide long-term relief. Tolerance to pain increases after acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been the subject of a staggering number of studies in this regard, many of them focusing on back pain. There have been some very promising results; enough reported benefits to consider it a viable possibility in treating back pain.
A recent meta-analysis examined a great deal of clinical evidence regarding acupuncture’s benefits on chronic pain. It included 29 studies, involving nearly 18,000 patients with back pain, neck pain, headache, arthritis, and shoulder pain. The study uncovered modest, yet statistically significant improvements in pain across the board, labeling it the “most robust evidence to date” that this ancient therapy is useful.
Tai chi is an exercise-based therapy that features slow, dance-like movements meant to reinvigorate the flow of qi and bring a calming effect to the body.
A number of studies have returned evidence indicating that tai chi can be effective. In 2010, researchers at the University of North Carolina found that tai chi led to improvements in pain, fatigue, stiffness and sense of well-being among arthritis patients. Participants did tai chi twice a week for two months. In the end, moderate improvements were seen across the board. For tai chi, a class setting is a good place to start, so an instructor can teach you the moves you need to know.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
How Two Ancient Therapies Can Help with Back Pain
Vickers, A.J., et al., “Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis,” Archives of Internal Medicine. September 10, 2012; Epub ahead of print.
“Study: Tai Chi relieves arthritis pain, improves reach, balance, well-being,” University of North Carolina School of Medicine, November 7, 2010