Disc Herniation and degeneration, Scoliosis, and other spinal disorders:

Spinal disc degeneration and herniation is an increasing phenomenon in modern medicine due to increased muscle tightness creating compression and pressure on the spine. Acupuncture is incredibly successful not only in eliminating the pain, numbness, and tingling that can be caused by herniation and degeneration, but also by strengthening the spine to help reverse degeneration and help eliminate herniation.

A disc herniation is characterized by the protrusion of the spongy central nucleus of the vertebral body through a defect of the outer fibrosis of the disc. This protrusion may trap nerve roots of the spine and cause pain, numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation, decreased function of the leg, and nerve root dysfunction . Disc Degeneration, the dehydration of vertebral discs, occurs as a process of age, and can also impinge nerve roots causing pain. Also the ligaments and bones of the spine become less mobile and flexible. An MRI is required to diagnose herniation or degeneration.

A thorough examination will be performed to determine the cause of pain, whether the pain is due to nerve root impingement or due to muscle tightness because of the spinal instability created by the herniation or degeneration. It is recommended if you have not gotten an MRI to see a neurologist and have one performed; however it is not required that you do this prior to our first visit as I will be able to determine and treat the discomfort without a MRI. If you have already had an MRI, it is beneficial to have the report faxed to my office for analysis.

Acupuncture is excellent to eliminate nerve pain and also help release the nerve compression itself. Also because the herniation or degeneration creates some spinal instability the muscles around the area will tighten. Acupuncture will relax your muscles and further ease your pain and tension. Generally after 2 visit you will feel significant pain reduction, after 10 visits your symptoms should be eliminated almost completely. Severe nerve impingement treatment may require more extensive weekly visits. It is recommended that because herniation and degeneration are chronic conditions you return for bi-weekly or monthly follow-up sessions. Stretches and nutritional supplements will also be recommended.

Surgical treatment is only recommended if there is severe loss of leg function and mobility, or if there is urine or bowel incontinence. Often even if there is leg function difficulty, acupuncture can reduce the inflammation and nerve impingement significantly enough to restore function and mobility. Often patients who have surgery have more discomfort after surgery or still have some pain, because of muscle tightness, which acupuncture can help reduce.

Scoliosis is an abnormal side to side curvature or twisting of the spine greater then 10 degrees. Often there is some pain and muscle tightness due to compensation for the twist or curvature of the spine. Acupuncture is excellent at easing the pain and muscle tension associated with scoliosis. Also through a special technique of using moxibustion and acupuncture combined, I can help to straighten the spine and reduce the degree of curvature.


1 The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. AHCPR Publication: Acute Low Back Problems in Adults: Assessment and Treatment. Publication No. 95-0643. December 1994