Acupuncturist Questions Back Pain

Which is better for back pain: acupuncturist or chiropractor?

I'm 35, and have been living with chronic back pain for years. I heard both acupuncture and chiropractic care can help me, but I'm not sure which one is for me. What do you recommend for back pain usually? Chiropractic treatment or acupuncture?

24 Answers

Do both, but do not get both treatments on the same day.
Chiropractic treatment is a procedure for structural change. Acupuncture is a modality just like pain relievers, therapeutic ultrasound, tens units, etc. Yawing the modalities is like unplugging the fire alarm and having a fire.
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I would start with chiropractic and then go to acupuncture.
I would recommend chiropractic first and if it fails, follow the advice of the chiropractor for what other field would be appropriate.
Either or would work. Acupuncture requires multiple sessions as well. Massage followed by an adjustment would also prove beneficial.
Try a Chiropractor first, if that doesn't get you to where you want, add the acupuncturist in. Sometimes it takes both professionals to solve a chronic problem.
It depends on the reason for your back pain. Both can be effective, however chiropractic may be the best choice if there is misalignment in your spine which can be corrected by an adjustment. Acupuncture is great if there is restriction to blood flow, muscle tension and for many other conditions. If you have the option, having both therapies can be the fastest route to pain relief.
I am a chiropractor so I have my biases. With that noted, research and clinical observations have shown there more than one path to managing chronic back pain. Acupuncture does seem to help "calm" the body down. If you do not have a needle phobia, can lie still on your back or stomach for 30-45 minutes, acupuncture may help. For example, if you cannot bend
forward because of pain and stiffness. Your range of motion will probably still be limited with acupuncture but hopefully it won't cause you as much grief to bend forward. Hopefully with chiropractic care we would address the decrease in function and pain. However, you have to be comfortable with being touched, having your joints manipulated (which can happen in a
variety ways), doing repetitive movements that seem to help and so forth. You might even need a combination of care. I have a few patients who see me and an acupuncturist depending on the quality of their pain and functional needs. Usually with chronic pain it takes a multi-angled approach.
I hope this helps.
Sometimes both treatments can help. It’s always a better to find what is the main issue and how long has the problem been. If Chiropractic hasn’t been helping, then acupuncture is the next solution. Or vice Versa.
Always discuss what your primary care physician recommends.

I would personally start with a chiropractor first and if you don’t achieve relief add acupuncture to your treatment plan. Ultimately, you must do what is right for you.


Dr. Duchon
Acupuncture !!!
I usually recommend Chiropractic first for back pain, especially if the cause of pain is trauma or repetitive movements. I recommend acupuncture if I believe the pain is stress related.
You can do your experiments. Do chiropractor for 2 months and do acupuncture for 2 months and you will have your answers.
Both! But it might depend on WHY your back is hurting. In many cases it's a combination of misalignment of structure (bones) and muscle / soft tissue involvement. The combination of chiro AND acupuncture together is a powerhouse for treatments! The chiropractor can help realign the spine and the acupuncture will help treat soft tissue - like muscle tension and nerve pain. In many cases acupuncture alone can help with back pain - especially if it's muscular or nerve related, but if there's a structural issue the chiropractor putting that into place is crucial.
I actually prefer an Osteopath over a Chiropractor, only because too many chiropractors have a "patient mill" type treatment strategy i.e. they do the same thing to every patient like an assembly block. This, of course, isn't true for all, but it is a strong majority in my experience.

I generally opt towards acupuncture with massage to keep the body flowing properly, and then occasionally will suggest a patient go see an Osteopath (or chiro) if I know a rib or vertebra is out and feel an adjustment would help. The acupuncture and massage treatments do, however, address these concerns as well. If the bone is out, the adjustment can help, but if the muscles are tight it will get pulled out again, so we need the muscles to let go and let the bones be set.

In a more concise answer - the three modalities work well together, but I believe the acupuncture does more for you. Not only treating the pain, but helping the muscles align and assisting the other organ systems in the body. I would go to an Osteo for something that the Acupuncture wasn't able to readily address, the same as I would suggest going to an MD if someone had a break. Let them do their work then come back to us for our finishing, and more thorough work.

However, I cannot decide for another person what is "better" for them. Some people prefer one over the other for themselves, so I suggest exploring both options and see who you click with more.

Good luck.
That's a difficult question to answer. When I get patients with back pain, I usually have excellent luck relieving their pain. But if I haven't made any progress after 9 or 10 treatments, I suggest they see a chiropractor because at that point it usually means that the spine is out, preventing the acupuncture from doing its job. Doing both at the same time is fabulous if your insurance will cover both - they help each other hold.

Hope that helps!
Chiropractic first for at least 6 to 8 weeks
If it is a spine alignment issue and need adjustment, then you should go for Chiropractic treatment. For the rest of chronic back pain, you can go to acupuncture clinic for help.
As an acupuncturist, my bias will always be towards acupuncture, but you must first learn why you have the back pain. Chiropractic can be very effective if your issue is structurally based, but in my experience, if they're only cracking joints, they're only providing short-term relief. You want to use a chiropractor who will incorporate other modalities of pain management and recommend stretches and exercises to support your body's new alignment.

Acupuncture takes a different approach. Instead of forcing a new alignment and working to sustain it, we support your body in finding that alignment on it's own. This does take more time but is more effective for long term relief. We also work with other reasons why you are having back pain such as trigger points in other areas of your body that refer pain to your back, emotional reasons or stress, and even issues concerning the viscera from both the eastern and western understandings.
For my opinion, acupuncture treatment is better for back pain.
Unlike most chiropractors and most acupuncturists, I actually strongly recommend both treatments. If more acupuncturists worked in conjunction with chiropractors and physical therapists, people would be healing much quicker.
The first question is: why do you have back pain? Not all pain has the same cause and some causes are more easily treated with one style of medicine vs another.

If you haven't already, I'd suggest seeing your MD and having some x-rays/CT/MRI done to see if imaging can shed any light on the cause.

Both acupuncture and chiropractic may be able to help. Sometimes the combination is better than either method alone. If you do decide to try acupuncture, please make sure you're seeing someone who attended Chinese medical school and is licensed in your state as an acupuncturist.