Acupuncturist Perspective: Acupressure for Back Pain
I have experienced back pain ranging from uncomfortable to excruciating ever since I can remember. My back pain was caused by scoliosis which is a curvature of the spine which has had the effect of significant pain radiating from my low back up to my shoulders which was debilitating. With regular acupuncture treatments my pain lessened and I was able to complete high school. And in fact this is the reason I decided to pursue acupuncture as my profession, as it has helped me personally. I started studying acupuncture in my mid-twenties and the pain relief I gained was incredible. The pain I have in my life and the relief I personally experience as a result of acupuncture allows me to connect and have empathy for my patients.
Low back pain has a number of different causes, and often times you will never learn the what the root is. It may be due to a degenerative disc, sciatica, spinal osteoarthritis, arthritis, stress, scoliosis, muscle strains, injuries, and inflammation. The back can be injured by a wrong twist of the body, lifting a heavy object, or even a sudden movement.
There are many treatments for back pain - most commonly are medications (over the counter and prescription drugs) however these come with a list of side effects that can damage your body in the long term. There are other approaches including acupuncture, stretches, and herbs that relieve pain and don’t have side effects.
In addition to getting acupuncture performed by a licensed professional, there are many acupressure points you can use on yourself. Urinary Bladder (UB) 23 and 52 both are beneficial for low back pain and stiffness. To find these points, put your hands on your hips at the level of your natural waist, with your thumbs towards your back. UB 23 is about two fingers width from the spine and UB 52 is located about two fingers widths from there towards the outside of your body. Once you locate those two points and massage the ones that are tender, move down your back to your sacrum (tail bone). On your sacrum there are UB 31, UB 32, UB 33, and UB 34. The last local point I want to mention is Gall Bladder 30 which is located on your buttocks between the sacrum and the greater trochanter (hip bone).
Along with the local points on the lower back there are a few distal points you can do at home. Large Intestine 4 is located on your hand, in the web of the finger between the thumb and index finger. This point helps with stress and overall pain. Urinary Bladder 60 is located midway between the achilles tendon and the outer ankle bone. This point is good for lower and upper back pain and stiffness. And is also beneficial for treatment of neck pain, swelling and pain in the heels, headache and dizziness.
Remember to take care of yourself! Low back pain can turn into something much more serious if you wait to treat it. The sooner you take care of back pain, the easier it is to help relieve it.