Herniated discs can result in varying amounts of pain and inflammation. While acupuncture can’t cure the degenerative disc disease that is often associated with this condition, at the very least, it can help with discomfort that frequently accompanies disc herniations and slow down the degeneration process. In addition, acupuncture may help the disc heal more rapidly. Herniated discs are most common in the low back but may also happen in the neck.

Herniated discs Acupuncture Treatment

It has also been suggested that acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins into the blood stream. Simply put, endorphins are your body’s natural pain relievers. As such, their release decreases your perception of pain.

Similarly, the Gate Control Theory may play a role in acupuncture’s effectiveness at reducing pain. This theory asserts that pain signals travel slowly from the area of injury to the spinal cord into the brain because the nerves can only handle a limited number of signals at once. Acupuncture is thought to generate faster signals to crowd out the slow-moving pain signals, thus blocking out the pain.

Research Studies

A new study finds acupuncture combined with massage is more effective for treating lumbar disc herniation (LDH) than coenzyme B12 injections combined with physiotherapy. The acupuncture group received acupuncture needling on myofascial pain related trigger points combined with massage. The acupuncture group achieved an overall effective rate of 96.7% and the injection therapy group had an 80.0% effective rate.

Lumber Disc Herniation

A lumbar disc herniation is a condition of the lower spine that frequently affects young and middle-aged patients. The discs are spongy cushions between vertebrae that act as shock absorbers. A rupture of a disc’s outer fibrous ring allows the soft jelly-like center to extrude through the tear. This may impinge nerve conduction and cause severe pain or may be asymptomatic.

Inflammatory chemical mediators are often released as a result of a herniation and may lead to:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • weakness
  • antalgic gait
  • impaired range of motion

The normal aging process is often accompanied by a loss of disc hydration and consequent disc collapse. This increases strain on the fibers of the annulus fibrosus surrounding the disc thereby facilitating a herniation of disc material. Sudden injuries to the spine also precipitate this condition.

Pain & Inflammation

Some of the acupuncture points will be targeted at reducing pain and inflammation. Points chosen for this will include some that are local, at the particular location of the back where the pain is being felt. Other points may be chosen that are located at a distance from the area but are known to be effective for relieving pain, such as Large Intestine 4 on the hand. These points are targeted at removing qi and blood stagnation which will also encourage healing.

In Traditional Chinese medicine, degeneration of the discs is linked to kidney deficiency. This refers not just to the organ itself but to the kidney energy or qi. Therefore, Dr. Baker will also likely choose some points to help strengthen your body in general and the energy of the kidney in particular. Acupuncture can assist in slowing down the degenerative changes and help with Herniated Discs.

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