Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

How can acupuncture help my lower back pain?

I have extreme pain in my lower back, and this is after giving birth to my son, who's now 3 months old. I heard acupuncture can help me ease it, but how does it really help? What technique would be used for my lower back?

29 Answers

For me, technique would include putting needles in points around your body, mostly on the arms from elbows to fingertips to the legs, from knees to toes. Anything more specific requires a diagnosis. If your back pain happened after birth, it likely would require some long term treatments--3-6 months. Not necessarily for your pain to go away, but to truly fix the problem.
Hi. Yes acupuncture would be very helpful
There are several techniques that we can use to alleviate your lower back pain but it all depends on why you're feeling that pain. Believe it or not, there may not be anything wrong with your back at all. In Chinese medicine, your reproductive energy actually comes from your kidney. And reproduction takes a lot of energy. Throughout pregnancy and after giving birth, the lower back pain may be due to a deficiency in kidney energy, or qi, because you're giving so much to your child. Just like how severe dehydration can cause lower back pain because of it's affect on the kidneys, kidney qi (energy) deficiency can cause lower back pain. If the lower back pain is in fact due to muscular dysfunction, we can use techniques such as cupping, dry needling, and moxabustion to relax your muscles. If it's due to a herniated or bulging disc, there are local needling techniques that can alleviate pressure on the disc and the nerve.
Low back pain happens sometimes after childbirth. Acupuncture and / or cupping can bring attention to the area and assist with healing. The low back area is directly related to reproduction and can get weak after childbirth. Acupuncture can help strengthen this area.
If you go to an acupuncturist, he/she will be able to explain how acupuncture works. Tuina (Chinese medical massage), cupping, and acupuncture are all good for it.
The Chinese Medicine is believed that energy or Qi flows through channels (meridians) in the body. It is also believed that certain medical conditions result from the blockage or imbalance of the normal energy flows and arouse the Pain.

By inserting needles into “Acupuncture-points” along the meridians, can adjust the flow of energy, remove blockages, and create a balance in the body. Recently scientists confirm that when needles are inserted into acupuncture-points, this stimulates the body's nervous system to release certain chemicals such as endorphins, dynorphins in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, they can release the pain.
Not only can acupuncture help your back pain, it can help you bounce back from child birth. If the back pain is due muscles or problems with the spine, then acupuncture would be used to control the pain and promote healthy blood flow to the muscles. If it's due to underlying deficiencies brought on by the trauma of childbirth, then Chinese herbs would be combined with the acupuncture to restore the body to health as well as treating the pain.
I'm so sorry about your back pain. Acupuncture can help relax tight muscles and calm or possibly eliminate nerve pain/impulses. If the problem is structural, such as a bulging disc, you may need chiropractic treatment or PT. Have you had an x-ray or an MRI? I'd hate to think of you causing further damage by lifting the baby and everything else a new mother does if it is a serious condition that may require surgery. If it is extreme as you say, please get an X-ray ASAP. It may get better over time, but it most likely will get worse. Good luck
Acupuncture, acupressure, Tui Na (type of massage), or gentle cupping (applying light suction to help move stagnant fluids) addresses the recovery by improving the circulation in the low back easing pain.
There is a strong ligament that connects the hip and pelvis. If the baby does not come out for too long when the baby is born, the ligament is stretched and the pelvis is twisted. Then the ligament or disc touches the nerves and brings pain. The acupuncture reduces the pain by balancing ligaments and muscles.
Many studies show that acupuncture is better for low back pain than pain medications. It works quickly and for longer times too. Once we get to the root of the issue we can get right to the healing.

Find a practitioner who is familiar with muscular pain and you should be better really soon.
Trying to give an answer as to how acupuncture works is like trying to explain colors using numbers. It's all about balancing energy, and we just don't have an easy way to explain it with western medical terms. Suffice it to say that acupuncture works very, very well on back pain.

As far as what techniques would be used, your practitioner may use a combination of many techniques including needling, moxa, cupping, and gua sha. Every body is different, and every practitioner has their favorite methods. They all work, so I would encourage you to find an acupuncturist nearby so you can get in to see them a couple times a week til you start feeling better. And most insurances are now covering it!
Hi! If your birth was a C section it’s most likely due to the abdominal incision and therefore the weakness in your core muscles. If your birth was vaginal, the kidney energy may be the cause. Either way Acupuncture can be very helpful.
Lots of women have this type of pain after giving birth. Acupuncture can help with your back pain as well.
Acupuncture definitely helps with pain management. We move blood, release right muscles and break stuck muscle fibers (trigger points). Methods can be the use of actual acupuncture needles and or cupping. Definitely give it a try
Acupuncture is amazingly effective with pain, and a variety of techniques would be helpful: tui na, cupping, microcurrent, and acupuncture. It works by balancing the body's metabolic systems, releasing endorphins, mitigating catecholines, increasing blood flow, and triggering the brain's triggering release of healing/pain relieving constituents and directing them to the appropriate tissues.
Acupuncture does help with lower back pain by taking down the inflammation.

Susan Friedrich
Thank you for your question.

Extreme pain is concerning. I would first see your ob/gyn and a physiatrist to evaluate the root cause. Other factors can cause low back pain after birth that are not low back, but felt in the low back. If your evaluation reveals nothing concerning I would strongly suggest a pelvic floor therapist to heal from the stresses of birth that can lead to muscular skeletal imbalances and back pain. But, first please see the ob/gyn and physiatrist, both are medical doctors that can together best figure out why you are in pain.

Kind regards,

Dr. B
There are several acupunctuee points used to relieve back pain. Also cupping helps along Manual manipulation called TuiNa which is a Chinese Medical Massage relieves the pain as well.
Yes, acupuncture can help your low back pain by increasing circulation moving blood bringing in good healing energy to your body. Using it helps to direct the healing energy into the specific areas. The increased blood flow helps to perfuse the damage to heal.
Thank you for your question! Acupuncture is primarily used to treat pain in the United States and insurance companies cover the therapy for this specific symptom. We see many patients that have low back and all sorts of pain. As we don't know the underlying cause of your pain, it is difficult to provide an accurate assessment however I would like to share with you, surgery has only 50% chance of success or less and acupuncture has a 90% chance of success overall. You were mentioning that you had a 3 months old baby so if you are breastfeeding, it is not recommended to take any pain medication. Acupuncture is the most conservative approach without any side effects.

Alexandre Hillairet, DAOM.
You most likely have inflammation in your low back due to carrying and the delivery of your baby. Acupuncture eliminates stagnant blood and energy and also the inflammation, reducing pain and allowing the new blood and energy to return and heal the area. This is a condition I treat daily and get excellent results with.
Acupuncture is very good at easing lower back pain. I usually use needles, infrared heat, and running cupping.

Nancy Knode
Acupuncture is very effective for pain management. There is a strong theory behind it but it's hard to explain it in a few sentences. The reason of the pain according to Oriental Medicine can be due to deficiency in circulation, excess, pathogenic heat or cold, blood stasis, which is most probably your case, and many more. By manipulating needles in affected meridians these dysfunctions can be removed, and healing will occur.
The sooner you start the better.
There are many different needles techniques. I personally practice Balance Method, it is very effective.
Good Luck!
There are different possibilities for your back pain. Depending on an internal or external cause of pain, the treatment will vary. Each technique varies upon practitioner, but I practice traditional acupuncture, as well as having our own proprietary technique that has been passed down generations in my family. My aim is to get rid of the pain from the root, and not just "ease the pain" by addressing the symptoms.
Yes, lower back pain is #1 reason that people seeking acupuncture. #2 is neck pain.
Here is why:
For Low-Back Pain. A 2012 analysis of data on participants in acupuncture studies looked at back and neck pain together and found that actual acupuncture was more helpful than either no acupuncture or simulated acupuncture. A 2010 review by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that acupuncture relieved low-back pain immediately ...
Hi there,

Lower back is very common among all types of people, and there are many different reasons for lower back pain. Please go see your family doctor and have an X-ray taken. TCM is known for pain management, but in TCM we work with the energy level. Energy free flow helps with blood free flow hence help ease the pain. Energy and blood stagnation cause pain. You can definitely go see your acupuncturist once you have consulted with your family doctor and have an X-ray taken.
Back pain is the number one reported reason people seek acupuncture. Chinese Medicine considers stagnation of qi and blood significant factors in causing pain in the body. Releasing blocked energy and increasing blood flow can give relief in pain syndromes.

Aside from the local (low back) effects in pain relief, acupuncture stimulates the release of chemicals such as endorphins, natural opioids and other neurochemicals that affect pain. Additionally, acupuncture supports the body’s natural healing abilities and helps the body-mind to relax.

There are several different acupuncture techniques that can be used to treat back pain. Both local points (low back) and distal points (other areas of the body) have the ability to give relief. Some acupuncturists use electro-acupuncture (needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses using small clips), while others use needles without electrical stimulation. The technique used for your low back pain will depend on the style used by the acupuncturist you choose.
Acupuncture usually works quite well for any kind of pain, including low back pain. What, exactly, is going on when a needle is inserted is still a somewhat open question.

Some of the best studies of acupuncture in pain conditions show that the needles might be doing a couple things:

1. Regulating a set of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord which have a lot to do with transmission of sensory signals, including pain signals. In essence, acupuncture is changing the way pain signals propagate through the central nervous system.

2. Re-mapping areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain which is heavily involved in the processing of pain signals. The changes induced by acupuncture appear to be changing the way the brain interprets pain.

In addition to these two things, certain kinds of acupuncture (especially a technique known as electrical stimulation) have been shown to induce the body to create stem cells which can help repair damaged areas.

As to your question regarding technique - that will depend heavily on the particular acupuncturist you choose to see and what system of acupuncture they practice. In the west, we tend to see acupuncture as a single monolithic approach. The reality is there are multiple systems inside the acupuncture container and different people practice in different ways.

Broadly speaking you're going to see two different approaches:

1. Folks who treat locally. In this case, if you come in complaining of low back pain, the practitioner will go through an intake and diagnosis and needles will likely be placed in or near the painful areas of your low back. This approach would include techniques like trigger or motor point stimulation as well as more classical local points indicated for low back issues.

2. Folks who treat distally. In this case, if you come in with a low back pain complaint, the practitioner will go through an intake and diagnosis and needles will not be placed in or near the low back; they'll be placed elsewhere on the body - usually between the elbows and hands/knees and feet. These systems are a lot more difficult for westerns to wrap their minds around, but for pain conditions they can be extremely effective.

I practice a distal system of acupuncture and I get excellent results treating back pain by placing needles on the back of the hands.

The most important thing is not whether the practitioner is using local or distal techniques. The important thing is whether or not they can accurately assess and diagnose your issue in terms of Chinese medicine. For this, you need to make sure you're seeing someone who is NCCAOM board certified (either Dipl Ac. or Dipl OM). I'd suggest starting with the "Find a Practitioner" page at to find board certified and licensed practitioners in your area.