Would acupuncture help back pain after surgery for solilcsis curvature of the spine?

Q:  I had solilcsis curvature of the spine and was corrected with surgery 21years ago.  I get spouts of bad back pain which become unbearable and it's hard to continue with work and life even with medication ....would acupuncture help.  I've  had all other physio which is not of great help.

A:  A huge amount depends on the kind of surgery you had when you were younger. This often involves some kind of spinal fusion, although if the surgery is performed in pre-teenage years it may not be quite so drastic.

Without a much greater amount of detail about the surgery and the potential this has created to interfere with other physical structures like spinal nerves it would be difficult to say precisely how much benefit you might expect. This expert, for example, has a patient with a serious ankle deformity which has meant operations leaving the right leg longer than the left leg. The effect of this on the lower back is going to be permanent as her body strives to maintain the head over the centre of gravity while the pelvic and sacro-iliac joint are rotated. However, treatment does seem to contain the occasionally more severe bouts of pain, although in one bout the pain simply did not respond at all.

This was a surprise because acupuncture for pain relief is a fairly well established option. After the US President Nixon's visit to China in the 1970s where we saw operations where acupuncture was used instead of anaesthetic there was a huge amount of research into acupuncture for pain relief, and the main question is not so much whether it works but how much it works and how sustainable the results are. If a treatment can buy a week or two's reduction in pain it might be a viable long term option, even if the cause remains and will continue to cause bouts of pain. It may come down to a matter of how deep someone's pockets are, but there is certainly provision within NHS Pain Clinics if you are lucky enough to get a referral to one.

Other than that the best that we can recommend is that you visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal chat about what acupuncture treatment may be able to offer. Most members are happy to give up a small amount of time without charge if they or the prospective patient are not entirely sure whether acupuncture would be a good option. This also gives you a chance to meet them and see where they work, factors which can make a difference in people's choices.

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