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Acupuncture and Back Pain

One of the most common questions I get is, “Can acupuncture help with back pain?” The answer is a resounding yes! Whatever the cause, or length of time you’ve had the pain, however much it hurts, whatever the location, the vast majority of Blue Lotus patients with back pain get relief and often resolution with acupuncture.

A study came out recently, stating that acupuncture is more likely to help people with back pain if they believe it will work. My knee-jerk reaction is to take offense. To say things like, “Well if that’s the case, why does it work on animals?” and, “Stop trying to discredit ancient medicine!” After that initial response passed, however, I had this thought: So acupuncture works better if you believe it will work. Doesn’t everything?

It’s a common theme of exploration these days – what effect do our thoughts and expectations have on our reality? Rather than dig up everyone else’s opinion and research, I present to you…common sense. Imagine you are starting a new job. What difference will your thoughts make if you begin the day with excitement and gratitude as opposed to doubt and negative thoughts? Imagine it’s a Monday. You wake up and say, “Oh great, it’s Monday again…” Do you think your day will go differently than if you wake up ready to do your best and take what the day has to offer? If, “They probably won’t like me,” is running through your head when meeting new people, how can you present yourself as you actually are – no doubt very charming and wonderful?

We can think of this in a Western medical light as well. Some people with the same diagnosis, taking the same medications, get drastically different results. Is it realistic to say that lifestyle (which is heavily influenced by thoughts and mentality) plays no part in someone responding better to treatment?

The reality is that you already have the job/it’s Monday anyway/the new people are right in fyou and your experience will be affected by your expectations. To be clear, I want to point out that it’s not all “in your head.” I have had several patients who come in thinking acupuncture has nothing to offer them and they’re only there at the … shall we say … gentle urging of a loved one. But they still get results. There is a physical effect that happens in response to acupuncture treatment which does not hinge upon “belief in” acupuncture. Acupuncture is not magic, voodoo, or religion. But if you can have a better response – to acupuncture, to Mondays, to life – by having a good attitude, then it’s certainly worth a try!


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