Is Acupuncture for Spinal Stenosis Effective?
If the tingling, numbness, and pain of spinal stenosis is disruptive to your everyday life, you may be asking about Chinese medicine and acupuncture for spinal stenosis symptoms.
In addition to more traditional therapies, your pain doctor may recommend acupuncture for spinal stenosis. This staple of Chinese medicine has been shown to lessen your symptoms, so you can return to your normal routine. Though spinal stenosis is generally considered an irreversible condition, you don’t have to experience constant discomfort as a result.
Understanding spinal stenosis is the first step in creating a treatment plan that works. Your pain doctor in New York or pain doctor in New Jersey can help you sort through your options to determine the treatment plan that is best for you.
What Is Spinal Stenosis?
All communication between your body’s nerves and your brain travel through your spinal cord, making it a critical component of your central nervous system. Though spinal cord tissue is relatively fragile, it is well-protected by the bones of your spine, which are called vertebrae.
Each of the vertebra has an opening for the spinal cord to pass through, called the spinal canal. Normally, there is plenty of space for the bundle of nerves to fit comfortably. However, spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the openings, which puts pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord.
Spinal stenosis often impacts the vertebrae in the neck and/or the lower back. When it occurs in the neck, the condition is referred to as cervical spinal stenosis. When it occurs in the lower back, it is referred to as lumbar spinal stenosis. The specific symptoms that individual patients experience may vary depending on the location of the stenosis, but generally patients report pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture treatment has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the belief that there is energy called qi running through the body. The energy travels along paths referred to as meridians, and when something gets in the way of the energy flow, patients experience a variety of symptoms such as the pain, tingling, and numbness of spinal stenosis.
Practitioners of acupuncture use tiny needles to clear any obstacles to the flow of energy. They insert the needles at critical points in the appropriate area of the body to relieve symptoms causing you discomfort. Generally, acupuncture for spinal stenosis is part of a larger treatment plan that also includes elements of western medicine.
When treating the symptoms of spinal stenosis, the practitioner focuses the placement of acupuncture needles in the areas where pain and discomfort are occurring. For example, if you are experiencing lower back pain, you can expect your acupuncturist to place the needles in key points thought to be connected to the lower back, rear end, legs, and feet.
In many cases, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, acupuncture has been shown to relieve some of the most disruptive symptoms of spinal stenosis.
Are There Alternatives to Acupuncture for Spinal Stenosis?
The North American Spine Society (NASS) has studied spinal stenosis treatments extensively. According to this research, the most effective treatment options for this condition include physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery.
Physical therapy is the least invasive of these treatments, and it works to improve the stability and flexibility of your spine. Unfortunately, the less you move, the weaker your muscles become. This can eventually lead to worsening symptoms.
Steroid injections are used to treat the specific nerves being pinched. These injections reduce inflammation and swelling, which can help to relieve some of the pain and tingling that patients feel. The injections don’t address the issue of limited space in your spinal canal, so they may need to be repeated periodically. Your pain doctor in NY or pain doctor in NJ will recommend a schedule that is both safe for your body and effective in treating your symptoms.
Surgery is the most invasive of your treatment options, and it comes with advantages and disadvantages. Some of the procedures, such as laminectomy, laminoplasty, and laminotomy are designed to create more space in the spinal column. When the procedure is successful, patients get a reprieve from pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness caused by pressure on the nerves. However, there are substantial risks, including lengthy recovery time, infection, damage to the spinal cord membrane, blood clots, and similar.
Because of these risks, many pain specialists recommend trying other treatment methods and complementary therapies before moving forward with surgery. Massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture for spinal stenosis can all play a role in relief of your symptoms.
How Do I Choose a Pain Doctor?
A number of medical specialists treat pain, including general practitioners, orthopedic surgeons, and pain doctors. Many patients with pain caused by spinal stenosis choose to work with the experts at a pain treatment clinic before visiting a surgeon. These experienced healthcare professionals have the specific skills necessary to correctly diagnose the source of the symptoms and create an effective treatment plan that avoids narcotics and surgery whenever possible. Of course, pain doctors do refer patients to other physicians for surgery when it is appropriate.
At Pain Treatment Specialists, you can look forward to customized care from Harvard-educated Board-Certified doctors. They are familiar with the most advanced techniques for pain management, and they make every effort to minimize the need for invasive procedures. Visit Pain Treatment Specialists online today to schedule your consultation.