If you’ve suffered from back and neck aches or other types of chronic pain, you’ve likely tried pharmaceutical drugs to alleviate your symptoms. These short-term solutions and their side-effects can be just as frustrating as the condition causing your pain. Furthermore, their potential long-term effects, such as addiction, drug resistance, or liver damage, might actually be worse than the pain you’re experiencing now. Fortunately, there are many studies that show acupuncture and other natural healing methods can be more effective than pharmaceuticals in treating symptoms of chronic back pain and may even eliminate its causes altogether.

Where Eastern & Western Medicine Meet

Though acupuncture and other holistic healing methods used to be seen as separate or “other” by western practitioners, they are increasingly the modality of choice. This is especially true for chronic back pain management. Earlier this year, The American College of Physicians (ACP) released new guidelines for the treatment of chronic back pain. They now advocate non-drug therapies as a first response, including stretching, exercise, acupuncture, hands-on bodywork (like massage or Zero Balancing), yoga, heat therapy, mindfulness, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Only after these avenues have been exhausted do they recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers, followed by prescription painkillers.

Say ‘No’ to Side Effects & Addiction

Persistent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Advil, Tylenol or aspirin, is very taxing on the body, especially the liver and kidneys. People who rely on NSAIDs for extended periods of time often experience ulcers, stomach pain and gastrointestinal bleeding, and an increased risk for heart disease. Long-term users of acetaminophen may do serious damage to their livers.

Perhaps the most dangerous outcome of drug therapy for chronic pain is the possibility of developing an addiction from reliance on opiates, including Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone) and Fentanyl. The United States is facing an epidemic of opiate addiction. Deaths from opiate use are increasing year after year. A combination of quick-fix mentality and aggressive lobbying by pharmaceutical companies flooded the medical field with powerful and dangerous opiate painkillers. These drugs are extremely addictive and many physicians write prescriptions much larger than necessary. Taking painkillers is a temporary relief, but does nothing to treat the underlying causes of pain.

Listening to Your Body/Mind

When neck and back pain begin to rear their heads, your first line of treatment should be self-care. Truly listen to your body/mind. What is it telling you in this moment? How are your stress levels? Have you been sleeping restfully at night? Does your diet leave you feeling nourished, or bloated? Often rest, relaxation, exercise, and good food can help alleviate back pain until more comprehensive solutions are available. Your mental and emotional state can also show up in your body as physical pain, so getting good support through friends, family, and activities you enjoy can also help.

Turning to Holistic Health

If you are suffering from acute or chronic back pain and your self-care techniques just aren’t getting the job done, you should consider looking to acupuncture, bodywork (including Zero Balancing) and other forms of alternative pain treatment. At Inner Works Acupuncture, we combine Five Element Acupuncture, Zero Balancing (bodywork), and Chinese herbal medicine to promote full-body health and pain relief. One of our clients reported:

Before beginning acupuncture with Liz, I had excruciating pain in my entire back. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc and was taking several medications for the pain. Since receiving acupuncture, not only has my pain nearly gone away, but other problems, such as my chronic depression, also resolved. This has been a profound overall healing experience for me.

Because of the complexity of my pain, I also receive Zero Balancing treatments to address both structural and energetic aspects of my problems. I feel as good or better after a Zero Balancing treatment than I do after receiving a massage.

After taking a combination of acupuncture, herbs and Zero Balancing for a few months, I went from excruciating pain and depression to almost total relief from my pain and no depression at all. I notice a tremendous difference when I dont take my herbs. They are a powerful form of medicine that works much better than any Western medication I had taken. I received more relief from depression after taking herbs for 2 days than I did from 15 years of taking antidepressants.

Here for You

Inner Works Acupuncture believes in healing from the inside out. If you are struggling with chronic pain and want to explore non-drug therapy options, we are here to help. Contact our Portland clinic at (503) 227-2127 today to schedule an appointment and begin the path to more natural pain relief.