Consider Acupuncture for Chronic Back Pain Relief

Susan Szulc, MD

If I could invent a cure for back pain, I’d be rich. Back pain is as common as Starbucks, affecting 70% of people at some time in their lives. The bad news is: most of the time we never find a cause.  The good news is that most pain will resolve on its own in 6 weeks. However, 25% will recur within the next year.

So what can we do about it? The traditional approach has always included physical therapy, exercise and pharmaceuticals for symptom management. Recently, however, acupuncture has come into the spotlight. In fact, two medical societies have endorsed using acupuncture for treatment of chronic back pain.

Now this may be a hard pill to swallow for some doctors, who are trained in traditional Western medicine, but I think this treatment modality deserves some respect.  In fact, I’ve started recommending it to my patients based on a recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that acupuncture was MORE effective in pain relief than traditional approaches.

Acupuncture is a regulated discipline and you should only see a practitioner who is licensed by the state.  However, there are a few reasons to avoid acupuncture. Consult a physician first if you:

  • have cancer
  • use Coumadin or have a bleeding disorder
  • have a skin infection
  • have any neurologic deficits (weakness/numbness)

More than one session is needed. I recommend 10- 12 sessions over the course of 8 weeks.  If you don’t notice an improvement after this time, you should stop.  Costs vary from $65-$125/session. Check with your insurance company, as almost half of them now cover these services.

“The greatest evil is physical pain.” –St. Augustine

About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.

+Read Dr. Szulc’s articles on health and wellness topics!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Szulc in Virginia Beach please call (757) 305-1797!

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