Lower back pain is a common problem
If you’ve experienced lower back pain, you understand how detrimental it can be to your quality of life. Even the simplest tasks become difficult. Injuring this part of your body limits your mobility and range of motion. Your lower back bears the weight for your upper body and is critical to the movement of our waist.
There are various causes of injury to the lower back. Muscles can be strained, nerves irritated, or bones and joints can have problems. These issues can be acute (lasting days to weeks) or chronic (lasting more than 3 months).
According to research by the National Institute of Health, lower back pain is a very common condition in industrialized countries, affecting nearly 70% of adults in their lifetime. The cost of back pain treatment and pain management is high, averaging $100 billion in the US alone.
How do you deal with lower back pain? Treatment solutions vary on the condition, but typically include rest, ice/heat application, and stretching. Occasionally stronger methods may be used, which includes opioid prescriptions.
Sometimes these treatments aren’t adequate and many people hope to avoid the use of narcotics due to their highly addictive nature. Research is proving that acupuncture works as an effective treatment option (with no negative side effects) for people dealing with lower back pain.
Acupuncture is a proven treatment method
Particularly for those experiencing chronic pain, acupuncture is a proven alternative medicine to help with lower back issues. Acupuncture works by placing needles at specific points in the body to stimulate blood flow and regulate the body’s healing process.
The Healthcare Medicine Institute cites studies that show the effectiveness of acupuncture. Treatment applied to patients with lower back pain eliminated all pain in 72% of patients after the first treatment. Another 20% had significant pain reduction and complete elimination after roughly three sessions. The application included rotating and pulling of needles to the patients’ tolerance level.
The National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health has listed acupuncture as a practice that can treat low back pain. A study in 2012 demonstrated that acupuncture results are superior to both sham (placebo) acupuncture and no-acupuncture control tests in clinical trials. This study shows the particular benefit of acupuncture for back pain. Those treated for back pain had 95% lower pain scores than those who were treated with sham acupuncture for back pain and other chronic conditions.
Medicare now will cover acupuncture treatments
Support for acupuncture has widened over the last few years. In January 2020, the Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will cover up to 20 acupuncture sessions for those insured by Medicare who suffer from lower back pain. CMS cited that 66% of people with chronic lower back pain are prescribed opioids.
The medical community is actively looking for ways to treat pain without prescribing addictive medicines. Acupuncture’s positive results are a cornerstone of the trend to seek alternative medicine and physical therapy.
This move by Center Medicaid Services will improve the lives of many who suffer from lower back pain. Insurance companies are beginning to offer coverage for acupuncture treatment, especially as an alternative to opioids.
We have had quite a few inquiries regarding the newly announced Medicare plan to cover acupuncture treatment for low back pain. The plan will limit treatment only to low back pain that has lasted 12 weeks or longer and not pain associated with surgery or pregnancy.
Unfortunately, due to the way the current Social Security Act is written there is no provision for acupuncture providers to enroll as providers since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not specifically list acupuncturists. As written, only an acupuncturist under the adequate supervision of a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or works as an employee of a medical corporation or provider can be eligible at this time.
We expect this omission to be rectified and look forward to announcing coverage to all of our patients.
If you’re experiencing pain, seek out a diagnosis from your physician. If acupuncture is a viable treatment, ensure the practitioner you choose is licensed in your state and holds certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
It’s likely that at some point in your life you’ll deal with back pain and seek pain relief. Especially for those who are more active, or work in a physically demanding job, your back will be under more stress. Back injuries are difficult to manage, but with the right treatment plan, you can return to your daily routine.
Acupuncture may be exactly what you need to ease your lower back pain. Reach out to our office for a free consultation and so we can learn more about you and your condition.