An incredibly common concern that I treat is back pain. Low back, upper back, mid back - it doesn't matter! Steroid injections are the usual go-to along with pain medications for life that have their own side effects with long-term use. Is there any other way to live comfortably? Yes.
Acupuncture is one of the first-line treatments that I use. Hate needles? No worries. We'll talk about other options momentarily. Acupuncture for back pain has research behind it. It's shown to be as effective as other alternative therapies, such as TENS or massage. I use a combination approach which involves the insertion of acupuncture needles locally as well as points that, in Chinese medicine, help to relieve back pain as well. I almost always connect the microcurrent to the local needles which helps aid healing and relieve pain. This allows an electrical current to pass between the needles which enhances the way the cells function, helping to speed the healing process as well as relax tense muscles.
If you're not up for the needles, we can work around that using things like cupping, massage, or microcurrent and TENS machines with sticky pads instead of needles. As I mentioned earlier, the research shows these work as well.
Whether or not you opt for acupuncture, be prepared for homework. Core strength is an integral part of easing low back pain. The principle behind this is simple: a strong core takes the load off the spine and spinal muscles. Those abs aren't just for washing laundry.
The tip: Activating the core muscles that count is a bit tricky, so here's how to tell if you're working the right ones. The "6-pack" rectus abdominis is not the one we're going for. Find the front pointy bit of your hip bone and roll off the front of it into your belly muscles. You'll find if you do a simple crunch, that part remains squishy, but when you pull your belly button in and try and make your waist as small as possible, that little part contracts. The core exercises you do, should contract that squishy part, or the transverse abdominis. The best ones are the yoga plank moves (front, side, reverse).
The workouts: Pilates is a great one to add into your rotation because of it's amazing core-strengthening, though you want to be careful not to aggravate injury. Yoga or any kind of gentle stretching has been shown effective for back pain specifically. Always listen to your body and let pain be your guide. If it hurts, don't try to be the hero.