How Acupuncture Is Used to Alleviate Pain from a Herniated Disc

How Acupuncture Is Used to Alleviate Pain from a Herniated Disc

Learning you have a herniated spinal disc and that it’s the cause of your back pain can be disconcerting. However, it’s also possible that you’ve had herniated discs before that produced no symptoms. It’s an internal injury that often repairs itself with little to no treatment. Often, medical care focuses on pain relief while the body takes care of the disc. 

Since the pain from a herniated disc is sometimes intense, you may need aggressive pain relief measures. Pain medications carry their own burden of side effects that patients and doctors alike wish to avoid. A nonmedicinal alternative is acupuncture

Our team at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center looks to surgery for herniated discs as a last resort treatment, since most patients heal spontaneously. We advise conservative care to aid your recovery, and frequently, this includes acupuncture, since it’s a drug-free alternative that readily complements other treatments. 

Understanding acupuncture

A traditional Chinese medicine treatment, acupuncture uses extremely thin needles, strategically placed, to provide a range of health benefits including stress management and overall wellness. 

Perhaps acupuncture’s greatest property is its pain relieving capabilities. Explained in Chinese tradition as a manipulator of energy pathways, it’s thought that the locations and needles stimulate blood flow and endorphin release by creating tiny injuries and triggering healing responses. 

The pressure points used for acupuncture seem to channel these pain relief benefits, since the needles themselves don’t hurt or cause injury. Despite a lack of full understanding of how acupuncture works, clinical research regularly demonstrates significant pain relief results. 

What to expect from an acupuncture treatment

There’s no preparation needed prior to an acupuncture treatment. A treatment may last as long as an hour, but yours may be shorter, depending on your condition. Typically, you’ll have a treatment plan to both initiate and sustain pain relief. This often includes one or two treatments per week, usually lasting for six to eight treatments. 

Depending on the source of your pain, we may insert needles in places far removed from the site of your pain. While this might seem unusual, if you’ve had sciatic nerve pain, which can be caused by a herniated disc, you’ll know that symptoms can sometimes radiate along a nerve’s length. 

Treatments can use as many as about 20 needles, but your condition may require fewer. Because of the tiny diameter, there’s very little discomfort as the needles are inserted, if you notice their insertion at all. The needles remain in place for about 10 or 15 minutes, during which time, they may be manipulated, twirled, tapped, or heated. You likely won’t feel the needles as they’re removed. 

Not everyone responds the same way to acupuncture. You may feel calm or energized. Pain relief may be immediate, or it may take a few sessions to appear. Some patients may not respond at all. 

Learn more in consultation with our herniated disc specialists at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center. Call our office to book an appointment or sign up as a new patient online today.

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