Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment that relieves pain and cures disease through the insertion of very fine needles into the body at specific points.
There are around 500 acupuncture points all over the body. By mapping ‘energy pathways’ throughout the body, acupuncture affects the functioning of certain organs in the body. However, the area that is stimulated by the needle may not necessarily be close to the part of the body where you are experiencing pain.
For example, even though you are suffering from headaches, needles may be inserted in your foot or hand. At your first consultation, an acupuncturist will ask you about your symptoms, your medical history and your health in general. They may also feel the quality, rhythm and strength of the pulses on both of your wrists. It is important that you choose an acupuncturist who is suitably qualified.
When should I see a doctor about my Back Pain?
Most simple back pain gets better on its own after only a few days. Simple painkillers may keep the pain under control (provided they are used as directed on the dosing instructions). However, you should consult your GP if your pain lasts longer than a week or is as a result of a fall or a blow to the back (e.g. a car accident or sporting injury).
You should also consult your doctor if your back pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- A high temperature
- Redness or swelling
- Pain down the legs and below the knees
- Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (can indicate pressure on the spinal cord).
Diagnosing back pain
In the vast majority of cases, your doctor will be able to work out what’s wrong by examining you and asking you to describe what your back pain feels like. However, one of the biggest problems with pain is that sometimes we do not have the words to describe it.
Rating pain on a scale of 1 to 10 may help you to describe it more easily. If your pain lasts longer than it should, or if your doctor suspects that there may be other reasons for your pain, you may be referred for further tests.