Acupuncture for Disc Herniation (Slipped Disc)

Slipped DiscA hernited disc is where the soft jelly like material between the spinal vertebra bulges out resulting in back pain. It is most commonly caused by over lifting. When the nerves coming out of the spine become compressed by the protruding disc, pain results. This pain can very severe and depending on the severity of the bulge, surgery is often the only solution that western medicine has to offer. Acupuncturists have been treating this condition for centuries and of  course did  not know that the disc had actually protruded.

This is because ancient physicians did not have access to MRI and X-Ray machines 2000 years ago ! But they did observe and understand that certain back injuries resulted in pain as well as numbness affecting certain parts of the leg and developed appropriate treatments to relieve this.  Modern China has made much advancement in the treatment of disc herniation with acupuncture and the rate of surgery for disc herniation is in fact much lower in China than in the west.

The cost effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for disc herniation verses surgery and the additional associated rehabilitation costs has been observed in China for some decades. The ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) in New Zealand does cover an initial course of acupuncture for this condition but unfortunately most patients are still recommended to follow the surgery process. There is quite some time involved in waiting to have the recommended surgery when a number of courses of acupuncture could have actually eliminated the need for surgery in many instances.

Recent research in China confirmed that acupuncture in conjunction with related traditional Chinese medicine modalities such as tui na (Chinese massage) worked better than drug therapy for pain relief. In particular electro-acupuncture which involves connecting a small electric current to the needles is regarded as the foremost treatment method to relieve pain and promote rejuvenation.

Modern diagnostic techniques are now able to find the exact location of the protrusion which has led to modern acupuncture physicians using another treatment known as  moxibustion. This where a special herb called mugwort is heated and held directly over the location of the disc involved. In traditional Chinese medical terms this increases energy and blood circulation to the area to stimulate a healing response. In western medicine, they do the exact opposite, and try to cool the area down using ice or prescribe anti-inflammatories.

Ancient Chinese physicians observed that the natural response to an injury like a slipped disc resulted in heat naturally occurring in the area. Modern science has actually shown that such an injury generates heat because of the inflammation response which then causes more stem cells to flow to the area to stimulate the healing process. Ironically western medicine then intervenes and provides treatment that is against the natural law of order. By prescribing anti inflammatory medication, the they are  actually discouraging stem cells to go to the area to heal the condition.  Western medical treatment is aimed at only reducing pain.  Acupuncture is focused on stimulating healing and rejuvenation of the area and reduction of pain is a side effect.

In New Zealand the government owned insurance company, ACC, allows up to 20 acupuncture visits to be funded in the treatment of herniated discs. Acupuncturists working from The Acupuncture Clinic in Napier and Masterton  are members of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists  and hence are fully  accredited ACC treatment providers for acupuncture.

About Heiko Lade

Hi, I'm Heiko Lade - qualified acupuncturist at The Acupuncture Clinic in Hastings, New Zealand. If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation and treatment, please contact me.


Comments

  1. I have a cervical slip disc and because of that have dizziness when moving my head backwards or lay down.
    Can Acupuncture get rid of the dizziness ?
    Thank you

  2. Lee Carrol says:

    Hello Heiko
    I love how you take the time to answer people who obviously will never become your patients.
    Having said that I feel tempted to hop on a plane and come to NZ
    I like a vast number of fellow sufferers on this page have Lumber spine issues, disk protrusion of T12-L1 and continuing down to L5. Marked facet arthropathy, central canal recess and foraminal stenoseses of moderately severe grade. In less than 12 months since my MRI, I now find myself unable to walk with out a walker trolly. I am terrified every time I have to swallow another Voltarin tablet, worried about the side effects. Doctor suggests I have spinal injections, have read up on it and do NOT want to have to go down that road. Can you recommend a practitioner here in Melbourne who also uses the Moxibustion technique?
    I am in Warragul Victoria, an hour & a half- East of Melbourne.
    Thank you in advance
    Lee ( Australia )

  3. Petra Nowak says:

    Hello doctor, I have compression of the right descending S1 nerve root in the subarticular recess at L5-S1 secondary to disc extrusion. Diffuse bulge disc at L4-L5 contacting the left descending L5 nerve roots. Have been in pain across both buttocks and down right leg causing sciatica over 3 months now. Just started acupuncture and dry cupping. Do you think these could help? I have been referred to surgery by my specialist which I desperately want to avoid. Otherwise fit 38 yo female. Thank you

  4. Turhan Amin says:

    I had a microdiscectomy in 2013 L 4 L5 . I was good for over 2 years. The pain came back I went to see my surgeon who said to try a facet block injection, that injection was the most painful and most horrible experience of my life, I could barely walk after that injection, I waited for about 3 hours and then managed to drive home.minhave had an epidural after that then a SI injection finally I have got fed up with not getting better.
    I have been going for acupuncture and 3 sessions I am feeling a little better, the acupuncturist promises me that she will fix me, I am going to keep trying, I am also doing some chiropractic and PT and home yoga. I am taking turmeric curcumin tablets and ERA tissue salts all natural. Dr Heiko since I have already had surgery a few years ago can acupuncture stil help me and is it good to combine all these options together? Please advise

    • Heiko Lade says:

      Hi Turhan
      I can’y comment on individual cases or advise as such but I can suggest continuing acupuncture for the recommended course as guided by your acupuncturist.

  5. ACHALA HEDAU says:

    Hello Doctor.
    I Am Suffering From Slip Disc Since 2 Month.
    Report Says That L4-5 And L5-S1 Lumbar Intervertebral Disc Are Desiccated With Marginal Osteophytes.
    Left Leg Is Painfull Hip Joints.
    Can U Suggest Us What To Do.

    • Heiko Lade says:

      acupuncture

    • ACHALA HEDAU says:

      is this the only solution

      • Heiko Lade says:

        You could also try physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, kinesiology, Emmett technique, Bowen, Alexander Method, prayer beads, wishful thinking, talking in tongues, Rune healing, stem cell injections, morphine and surgery. If none of those help, you have acupuncture to fall back onto.

        • Hello , i want to ask in case of lumbar disc i was did physioterapy and feel good. But time after time comes again the pain.. I used voltaren, olfen, injection and creams local.. Go and come pain.. I want you advice and if with acupuncture will really give long result or the same just for a period of time? How many session must be doing?
          Thank you and i appreciated.

          • Heiko Lade says:

            Without knowing the specific details of you and your case, I could even to try to guess how many sessions you possible could require. From my own experience, once the treatment course has been done, the benefits are long lasting.

  6. Hello doctor, I have a herniated disc l5,s1 and I started acupuncture and fire cupping can u tell me how many hours I do in a day and how much time it takes.I started one day before

  7. deepak kumar singh says:

    Helll doc!!
    I am from India. i happen to have slip disc in the region l3-l4 & l4-l5. and the l5 nerve is compressed. i have got relief from conservative trearment around 50%. But i am not able to get fully healed. can accupunture heal me and specially can it heal the annulus fibrosus tear(with or without scar tissue) and will i get my spine back as healthy as it was because i am an active sportsman ?
    i don‘t want it to be the day breaker for me and i have seen many people getting completely cured from asthama and many nerve disorder, so i am really hopefull that it can cure me and fix my spine!!

    • michael a says:

      Hello Doc,
      Am mike frm Uganda,
      I first had a piercing pain in my left foot, to my limb, eventually to the shoulder and the left arm. This is atleat 1 week old. Could this be a disc problem and can acupuncture heal completely since its a developing problem? Bt just sceptical about acupuncture clinics around me! Need your urgent advice doctor.

      • Heiko Lade says:

        Sorry Mike, I can’t do a diagnosis over the internet. And I don’t any practitioners in Uganda that I could refer you to.

  8. Hi Arjun I have a slipped disc from which I was in agony.I have now had 4 sessions of accupuncture and the pain has gone from my leg and foot.I now only have slight pain near the slipped disc.How do you know if the disc has gone back in and will I be able to play golf again.

  9. hi doc, i hv faced L4/L5 disc herniation from 3 months.
    i hv pain snd numbness in right thigh.rit now taking acupressure treatment. 6 sessions over not feeling
    better. what do you suggest?

  10. mohammed tabrez says:

    Respected sir iam from India , I have disc protusion problem in l3-4,l4-5 ,l5-s1 since from 4 years and iam 24 years old and tried lots of orthopeodic doctors medicine treatments it doesn’t work doctors all are saying that three discs are totally damaged i must need to do a surgery but I don’t want to do a surgery my pain is increasing more also iam feeling numbness in both legs ,I have still bladder nd bowel control .please give me good suggestion .iam single nd recently I completed my engineering i need to go abroad to do a job after tht to get marry with somone however if I get well soon please tell me wht should i do either I go for an accupuncture treatment or surgery

  11. I am effected slip disc last 10 month,I am face right foot stiffness,pain,and my problems large at towheelar driving. Please guide me my problems help acupuncture?

  12. My question is…how often should I do accupuncture if it

  13. Hello doctor,
    I am suffering from herniated disc since last six months.
    I got treatment from an orthopedic surgeon but it didn’t help.
    I ask the doctor if I can go for the acupuncture but he says no. If I go for that my problem will increase and then I must go for surgery which I dont want to go for.
    Please advise me. What should I do?
    Regards
    Siraj

    • Hi Siraj
      If you don’t want surgery, I suggest try acupuncture and moxibustion.
      Heiko

      • I limp to a tcm for electroacupuncture n suction cup and walk out from the clinic. Surprisingly I am a Chinese but I try it after getting info from a western guy who advised on this. Never know it was a real miracle. Try to avoid surgery until last last last resort

      • Heiko thank you for saving many people from the knives. God bless you.

        • I don’t know how many times surgery has been cancelled after acupuncture has helped resolve the herniated disc.

  14. chaminda says:

    can acupuncture repair the damage disc or only relief the pain
    please answer me. because I am undergoing acupuncture treatments in sri lanka

    • Heiko Lade says:

      Yes it can help repair the disc, that is the aim of the treatment.

    • Hello doc I am suffering from slip disc from last one year now I am totally fed up .I don’t know what’s going on .having continuous pain no relief I want to die I Cant bare any more.please suggest me what can I do .?

  15. Hello doctor. I have degenerative disc disease in my thoracic and lumbar spine, as week as a herniated disc in l5/s1 and t9/t10, plus arthritis in my spine and hips. Could you explain exactly how acupuncture would help this? Like dies it release chemicals, stimulate nerves, etc. just curious, thanks!

  16. hi doc i m sufring frm slip disk having pain in my both legs due to L4&L5 disk..
    i have completed my four acupunture therapy but i m still in pain not feeling better frm this treatment.
    will u help me how i can get rid of this pain..

    • Ahmad, it is difficult more me to advise you. As a general rule in my experience it may take 20 sessions or more to treat a herniated disc. It depends on the severity of the herniation, your age, the experience and training of the acupuncturist etc. I personally find the use of moxibustion paramount for this condition.

  17. Acupuncture ROCKS! I was diagnosed with 2 herniations in my lower back after trauma to the spine (knocked from bike) and then lifting boxes. Suffering terrible pain after sleeping at night I tried acunpuncture. I was pretty miserable, had to cancel overseas holiday and was booked for a steroid pain injection. Surgery would be next option. Heiko was lovely and he treated me to the point where my bubbly self is back and I no longer have the terrible pain down my leg! Wouldn’t it be marvellous if patients could be diverted to acupuncture as a FIRST call to heal herniations and to save our health dollar! I don’t believe anyone wants back surgery when there is this fantastic health option.

    • Yes Bethne, the cost saving to ACC (and your ACC levies) would be dramatic. I have treated herniated discs that were booked in for surgery and then the patients cancelled the surgery. Results speak for themselves, its trying to inform the powers to be that is the challenge.

  18. Hello doc is acupuncture is permanent solution of slip disk ?????

    • Heiko Lade says:

      Hi Arjun, if the acupuncture has prevented surgery and the patient is no longer in pain, does not have numbness and resumes normal activities, I would regard this as close to a permanent solution.

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