Doctors Advised to Refer Low Back Pain Patients for Acupuncture

For patients with acute or sub-acute low back pain Medical Doctors have been advised not to prescribe potentially harmful drugs or expensive, unnecessary tests wherever possible and to refer patients for non-drug therapies including Acupuncture 1.

Acupuncture is one of a small handful of treatments that have been recommended as part of the evidence-based clinical practice guideline published in February 2017 by the American College of Physicians.

The American College of Physicians is a highly esteemed and influential medical body in the USA, whose medical model Australia follows very closely.

Low back pain happens to be one of the most common reasons behind visits to Medical Doctors. Approximately 25% of the population report having experienced low back pain recently and it can be a debilitating condition that severely decreases quality of life.

According to the president of the ACP “Physicians should avoid prescribing unnecessary tests and costly and potentially harmful drugs, especially narcotics, for these patients.”

The ACP recommends Medical Doctors first refer patients for non-drug therapy, including Acupuncture, spinal manipulation, mindfulness-based stress reduction and even motor control exercise. Movement based activities such as tai chi and yoga could be beneficial also.

The guidelines also showed that systemic steroids were ineffective at treating low back pain, as was the commonly prescribed medication acetaminophen.

Opioid-based pain killers (narcotics) are advised as a last resort. This recommendation is likely related to the Centre for Disease Control’s declaration that opioid-based pain killers have become an “epidemic” and that the number of deaths associated with these drugs and risk of addiction is too high.

The ACPs guidelines reflect a growing body of evidence in support of Acupuncture for pain management due to its effectiveness and safety.

Dr Scott Baker is a registered acupuncturist practicing in Burleigh Waters, Gold Coast. To find out if he may be able to assist with pain, fertility, digestion, hormones, sinus, allergies or other conditions call and book a consultation today or book online at www.alliedacupuncture.com.au

Allied Acupuncture Gold Coast, 2 Executive Drive, Burleigh Waters. 07 5522 1691.Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA, for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017;166:514-530. doi: 10.7326/M16-2367

Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain

Dr Scott Baker of Allied Acupuncture Gold Coast is highly experienced at using distal and local electro-acupuncture treatment strategies for the treatment back, neck and shoulder pain. .

These conditions are so common in today’s society that they are the number one musculoskeletal pain conditions we see in clinical practice.

These conditions have a multitude of possible causes including:

  • Repetitive stress or strain
  • Tight muscles
  • Deviations in the spine, shoulders or hips
  • Surgery
  • Bone growths, degradation (arthritis) or deformities
  • Bulging or herniated discs from accidents and injury

Pain can vary widely from a dull ache, to sharp stabbing pain to debilitating weakness, or burning/electric nerve pain. It can vary from constant to being either worse in the morning and improving throughout the day, or better in the morning and worsening as the day goes on. These variations can tell your treating practitioner a lot about the nature of your pain.

Low back pain is particularly common and the most recent high level scientific research evidence supports acupuncture as a treatment intervention for chronic non-specific low back pain 1.

Interestingly the American College of Physicians – an influential medical body – recently released its recommendations for treating low back pain and stated that non-drug treatments MUST be recommended by doctors first, before resorting to drugs.  They recommended acupuncture as a front line treatment. This non-drug treatment stance is related to the Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC) finding that opioid (pain killer) drug use and abuse had become an ‘epidemic’, and that more people now die from drug overdose (prescription and elicit) in the USA than motor vehicle accidents.

Upper back, shoulder and neck issues can also involve a variety of pain sensations, limited range of movement, headaches and tension, nerve pain, arm/wrist pain. These conditions impact severely on quality of life and can cause sleeplessness and reduced mobility. Many people who suffer these conditions experience an inability to work or sleep well and their quality of life suffers significantly as a result.

In this area the most common problems Dr Baker sees in clinic are variations of “Tech Neck” a condition that develops due to posture during prolonged use of phones/laptops etc. Left unchecked this can develop into Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Common symptoms include pain on the medial border of the shoulder blade, painful knots in the trapezius or neck, tension in the neck and possible headaches, and even pain, numbness or tingling in the arm, wrist or hands.

According to the highest level of scientific evidence “acupuncture may be an effective and safe method in relieving persistent head and neck myofacial pain” 2. This is relfected in Dr Baker’s clinical results.

First line choices for shoulder pain should include exercise in combination with acupuncture according to the research 3. Dr Baker recommends being assessed by a physiotherapist and receiving tailored exercises for your particular condition to support your acupuncture treatment protocol.

Some people experience recurring episodes of back, neck or shoulder pain throughout there lives. Generally this occurs whenever they ignore warning signs, push themselves too hard or during times of stress. If you feel a chronic back, neck or shoulder issue coming on, it is ideal to seek out treatment as soon as you can rather than pushing through the pain hoping it will go away to prevent it progressing to its most severe level. This should result in faster resolution and prevent increases in severity before it develops into a debilitating level of pain.

Dr Scott Baker is a registered acupuncturist practicing in Burleigh Waters, Gold Coast. To find out if he may be able to assist with pain, fertility, digestion, hormones, sinus, allergies or other conditions call and book a consultation today or book online at www.alliedacupuncture.com.au

Allied Acupuncture Gold Coast, 2 Executive Drive, Burleigh Waters. 07 5522 1691.

References:
1.
Xiang Y et al. (2020), ‘Evidence of efficacy of acupuncture in the management of low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo -or sham- controlled trials.’ Acupuncture in Medicine. 2020;38(1):acupmed2017011445.

2. Farag AM et al. (2020), ‘The effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of persistent regional myofasical head and neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2020;49:102297.

3. Dong W et al. (2015), ‘Treatments for shoulder impingement syndrome: a PRISMA systematic review and network meta-analysis. Medicine. 2015 Mar;94(10):e510.

Tags: neck pain relief, chronic pain relief, upper back back pain, shoulder pain relief, acupuncture pain relief

Headaches and Migraine Relief

Unfortunately many people endure chronic pain from headaches and migraines because they simply are not aware of the evidence supporting the benefits of acupuncture. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for headache and migraine at the highest levels of research evidence (systematic reviews) 1, 2.

Headaches and migraines can be triggered by tension in your neck and shoulders, previous injuries, viruses, hormonal changes, foods or have an unknown cause and simply occur throughout life, particularly at times of being run down or stressed.

A systematic review on acupuncture treatment for migraines reported the following 2:
”Our findings about the number of days with migraine per month can be summarised as follows. If people have six days with migraine per month on average before starting treatment, this would be reduced to five days in people receiving only usual care, to four days in those receiving fake acupuncture or a prophylatic drug, and to three and a half days in those receiving true acupuncture.”

The above systematic review also found that for migraine treatment the number and frequency of treatment had a significant impact on the benefits: mainly that a course of 16 total treatments at twice per week was almost twice as effective than a course of 12 treatments. These findings highlight the importance of completing a course of treatment, much like you would with a course of anti-biotics. Treatment frequency and consistency means better results.

For chronic tension-type headaches a systematic review found:

“The available results suggest that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension-type headaches..” and called for head to head studies comparing acupuncture to other treatment options 1.

Just as the cause of headaches and migraine can vary, so can clinical outcomes; sometimes just one treatment can provide seemingly miraculous results, others take a course of strategic treatment to resolve. This is why we diagnose and treat every client based on their own unique symptom presentation. We use advanced distal acupuncture techniques to get the best possible results for our patients.

We recommend acupuncture for the treatment of headaches and migraines due to the strong supporting scientific evidence. If you suffer these conditions please contact us or book an appointment online:

Dr Scott Baker is a registered acupuncturist practicing in Burleigh Waters, Gold Coast. To find out if he may be able to assist with pain, fertility, digestion, hormones, sinus, allergies or other conditions call and book a consultation today or book online at www.alliedacupuncture.com.au

Allied Acupuncture Gold Coast, 2 Executive Drive, Burleigh Waters. 07 5522 1691.

References:
1.
Linde, K et al. ‘Acupuncture for tension-type headache’, Cochrane Library, 2016.

2. Linde, K et al., ‘Acupuncture for preventing migraine attacks’, Cochrane Library, 2016.

Tags: Chronic Pain, Headache, Headache Relief, Migraine Relief, Migraine