Case Study: Acupuncture for Chronic Lower Back Pain

October 6, 2009 at 9:17 am

by Dr. Zak Han, MB (1985), MATCM (UK)

zakWe were actually amazed when we typed “causes of lower back pain” into the Google search box. Over 3,770,000 search results exist! By just glancing at the articles that pop up on the first page yields an enormous amount of facts and figures. But… the treatments aren’t always effective. Acupuncture is without question one of the most powerful pain-altering modalities in the world. Its reputation for pain relief is known and respected internationally. It may be practised successfully with a variety of procedures other than needles, including lasers, electronic and noninvasive stimulation devices for those who are needle-phobic and would not consider acupuncture otherwise.

This case study concerns a 58-year-old female patient who presented in February 2008, with severe pain in her lower back, right buttock, leg, and foot. The patient’s pain began in February 2007, when she slipped while cleaning in her home. Following that, she had many different treatments including physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractics, etc, but nothing worked. She also received hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen, which provided minor relief but caused nausea.

She described the pain as “cramping, burning, radiating, and squeezing”. She said the pain was constant, with an intense ache in her lower back. Pain radiated right across her hip and buttock, down the posteriolateral aspect of her leg to the sole and top of her foot. She was unable to work because of intolerable pain. On physical examination, it was noted that flexion, extension and lateral movements of the spine were all completely normal. However, on palpation of the L4/L5 facet joint there was extreme tenderness, on the right more than the left, and examination also showed a decreased ankle reflex on the right side.

zakdiag1After presentation at my clinic the patient enrolled in ‘zak acupuncture’. After the first treatment, there was little result. She continued with treatment and received deep and intensive acupuncture in the lower back area for approximately 2 months, almost 10 acupuncture sessions in total, in which she had a lot of thick needles put over the tender facet joints, and in some regional acupuncture points. On the eleventh session, it was difficult to elicit the previous area of tenderness and the patient felt that the pain had completely resolved.

Most low back pain is triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Many experts believe that over time muscle strain can lead to an overall imbalance in the spinal structure. This leads to constant tension in the muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs, making the back more prone to injury or reinjury. Acupuncture is the best solution for back pain relief as it is best for decreasing inflammation and built-up circulation to injured tissue.

In contrast to most acupuncturists, I focus first on trying to find an effective option for my patients. Most of the patients I see have a problem that I can solve with a special acupuncture technique. I spend a significant amount of time practising with new and exciting technologies that have made modern acupuncture technique one of the fastest growing and most technologically advanced areas in all of Chinese medicine. Although I am sorry that you have to come see me because of your chronic and difficult back pain, take comfort in the fact that I have so much more to offer you to solve your pain successfully than any other time in history. Please have a look around my website. I hope it helps you learn more about my practice and understand more about your spine.

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