Acupuncture for Back Pain Treatment: Getting Results

At any given moment, 23% of the world’s adults are experiencing chronic low back pain. 84% of adults will suffer with the condition during their lifetimes. It impacts their ability to work, socialize, and enjoy a quality of life.

Many turn to acupuncture for back pain treatment. But like any respected ancient alternative healing practice, it’s essential to understand what acupuncture can and can’t do—according to the science. This will allow you to get the most out of your sessions.

Is Acupuncture Good for Back Pain?

Many people who have back pain benefit from acupuncture. Studies have shown that It can be a safe and effective way to manage both acute and chronic back pain if performed by a licensed acupuncturist who understands how this ancient Chinese medicine practice works.

review of over 30 clinical trials and studies by scientists asked the question, “will acupuncture help back pain?” They found “moderate-certainty evidence” that when compared to no treatment, “acupuncture produced greater and clinically important pain relief {and} improved back function.” with no reported “adverse events”.

Does It Work for Chronic Back Pain?

Acupuncture can be an important tool for managing pain, especially in the short term. It relieves the immediate discomfort without medication while you address the root cause of that pain over the longer term. Depending on the cause of pain, this alternative therapy can be combined with other methods like nutrition therapy, ultrasound therapy, disc herniation treatment, home exercise, Graston therapy, and chiropractic adjustments to optimize your body’s natural healing ability and experience longer-term relief from pain.

These sessions can complement conventional medicine back pain treatments as well. They can eliminate the need for addictive pain medications or lower the dose needed, reducing the risk of dependence while a back injury heals.

Those with chronic back pain know how debilitating the pain can be. It makes it hard to do anything, including taking action to treat the cause of the pain. So, a person often tries to move as little as possible, and the pain worsens. Acupuncture gives people a relief window to take the actions needed to experience longer-term relief.

What Does Acupuncture Do for Back Pain?

An acupuncturist inserts single-use, ultra-thin needles into specifically mapped-out points on the body to redirect the energy flow. This directly disrupts pain signals and activates the body’s natural healing processes. It also starts a chain reaction of stress-reducing chemicals in the brain, which can both improve your mental state and cause your back to temporarily “let go” of tension that may be contributing to your pain.

For example, you have four low back pain points on one either side of the lumbar spine (lower back) about two fingers width from the spinal column. You have two additional low back pain points on your feet. These are two fingers width up from the base of the big and second toe, resting between the toe bones.

And while it might sound strange, studies show acupuncture in the ear for back pain can also reduce pain intensity. This is a common addition to the therapy.

You can learn more about how acupuncture works here.

Other types include:

  • Acupuncture for upper back pain
  • Acupuncture for back pain sciatica
  • Acupuncture for back nerve pain

In each case, they have specific points to target.

Acupuncture for back pain treatment

Photo 93227774 / Acupuncture Back © Rayp808 |

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture for Back Pain?

Acupuncture benefits for back pain include:

  1. Disrupting pain signals
  2. Decreasing back pain intensity
  3. Stimulating the nervous system to promote healing
  4. Reducing chronic inflammation
  5. Activating the body’s natural release of pain-reduction chemicals
  6. Improving mood (which can reduce back tension)
  7. Temporarily reducing pain to allow time for longer-term treatments to work
  8. Complementing conventional medicine
  9. Reducing the need for pain medications and the risks associated
  10. Reducing the need for surgery (if you take action to reduce the cause of your pain during your relief windows)

We encourage you to set up your free phone consult to learn more about treatment options.

Any Side Effects?

Side effects are typically mild and resolve within minutes to hours. They include site redness, irritation, pricking discomfort, and slight bleeding. More adverse events are extremely rare and unheard of when acupuncture is administered correctly by a licensed professional using single-use needles. Wait a few hours to work out after acupuncture since the needle sites could bleed, if stimulated.

How Long Does Acupuncture Last for Back Pain?

When receiving this treatment, most will experience significant relief for 24 to 36 hours, after which the discomfort may slowly return. Most can move more freely during the pain relief window, maintain a stretching routine, and complete complementary therapies to achieve longer-term relief. But every situation differs. We can discuss this with you during your acupuncture consultation.

Schedule your first acupuncture session to get relief.

How Many Sessions of Acupuncture for Back Pain?

Most people with acute and chronic pain will have noticeable improvements after two to three sessions.

But all back pain is not the same. So, how many acupuncture sessions are needed for back pain varies. Depending on what’s causing your condition, it may take multiple visits to experience initial relief and activate your body’s natural healing processes to eliminate back pain more fully.

Even after the pain is gone, it’s vital to keep acupuncture and chiropractic maintenance sessions. These allow your chiropractor to evaluate and adjust your back’s alignment and overall health. Ideally, those who do heavy lifting or sit for long periods need to have a chiropractic adjustment every two weeks for maintenance to reduce the risk that the pain intensity returns.

Schedule your first acupuncture session to start getting results.

How Often Should I Have Acupuncture for Back Pain?

Most people will benefit from two to three sessions a week for severe symptoms. Once the root cause is addressed, and the back is allowed to heal, you may need fewer sessions to maintain your progress.

Keep reading to learn about how chiropractors treat low back pain.

Photo 14835961 / Acupuncture Back © Wavebreakmedia Ltd |

How to Relieve Nerve Pain in the Shoulder Blade

Nerve pain in the shoulder blade can wreck your day or year if untreated. Moving the wrong way, even slightly, causes a burst of sharp pain. It wakes you up in the middle of the night. You may feel tired, agitated, and struggle to do everyday activities.

But would it surprise you to learn that shoulder nerve pain isn’t happening in the shoulder at all? Here’s what is really going on.

What Does Nerve Pain Feel Like?

Nerve pain is a distinct sensation most people recognize. They describe it as a sudden shooting, stabbing, stinging, or electrical shock in a targeted area.

Depending on the level of nerve damage, it may also feel like a more generalized burning feeling, numbness, or pins and needles. Based on where it is, it can certainly reduce your ability to move either because of pain or because the nerves can no longer communicate effectively.

You usually feel this shoulder nerve pain in the left shoulder blade or nerve pain in the right shoulder blade. Its exact position depends on which nerve is pinched.

What Causes Nerve Pain in the Shoulder?

Nerve pain near the shoulder blade occurs when a nerve is compressed in the neck. And curiously, you may not even have neck pain!

This is commonly called a “pinched nerve”. Nerves become pinched in the neck due to normal wear and tear, bone spurs, herniated disc (rupture), posture issues, and cervical spine misalignment related to these.

This nerve pain radiates from the nerve root in the neck (cervical spine) into the back shoulder blade. You may feel a pinch or sharp pain behind the shoulder blade or under the shoulder blade. Some people will feel nerve pain in the shoulder and arm.

Cervical Radiculopathy

A medical textbook would call this phenomenon “cervical radiculopathy”. “Cervical” as in the cervical spine (neck), and “radiculopathy” meaning roughly “a disorder that radiates”. This is a form of neuropathy (nerve damage).

Cervical Stenosis

Cervical stenosis (a type of spinal stenosis) is a related condition. It describes the narrowing of the path that runs down the middle of each neck bone. This path houses the spinal cord. Nerves shoot out from it to transport messages to other body parts.

Bulging or Herniated Disc

Discs are fluid-filled, tire-like cushions between each spinal bone that protect the auxiliary nerves from being squeezed when a neck has a natural alignment. Poor alignment causes them to bulge and even rupture, leaking fluid that irritates the nerve.

You may have one or all three of these conditions when you have nerve pain in the shoulder blade.

The doctor is pointing at a herniated disc on the image.

Photo 1820552 / Cervical Spine © Dean Hoch |

Nerve Pain Vs. Functional Shoulder Pain

Nerve pain in the back shoulder blade should be clearly distinguished from sharp or aching pain in the shoulder joint. That is more likely to be arthritis or a small tear, which requires a different treatment.

You can schedule an evaluation to uncover the true cause of your shoulder blade pain.

Is There a Nerve Under the Shoulder Blade?

“Axillary nerves” begin at the neck before moving down through the back of the shoulder blade and down the back of your upper arm. These nerves are responsible for sending messages to your arm so that it can move.

Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Severe Shoulder Pain?

Nerve pain in the shoulder blade area can cause excruciating pain and numbness. People who experience this pain over some time may also feel mentally and emotionally exhausted and irritable. They may struggle to function at work, at home, and in social situations.

Do I Have a Pinched Nerve in My Shoulder Blade?

Only an exam from a trained professional can definitively say if you have a pinched nerve. However, the pinched nerve is probably not in your shoulder. It’s in your neck. You’re experiencing radiating pain from the trapped nerve in your neck, which could lead you to believe the nerve irritation is happening in the shoulder.

No amount of shoulder rotations and shoulder massage will help because the issue is not actually behind your shoulder blade.

How to Fix Nerve Pain in Shoulder Blade at Home?

If nerve pain in the shoulder blade is mild and not recurring, then figuring out how to relieve nerve pain in the shoulder blade may be as easy as getting a different pillow. We always recommend you try these things at home first to see if it gets better:

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Improve your neck posture.
  3. Set up your workstation ergonomically.
  4. Try over-the-counter painkillers for a short time while you work on these other fixes.
    • (Note: Use as directed. These should not be taken long-term.)
  5. Perform a daily stretch routine or simple yoga poses.
    • Hold positions for at least 6 seconds. No jerky movements.)
  6. Ask a family member for a gentle neck massage with hands only
  7. Switch pillows and avoid weird sleeping positions.
  8. Get recommended daily low-impact exercise, such as walking, cycling, or swimming.
  9. Alternate hot and cold packs.
  10. Address any vitamin deficiencies.

If the pain persists for two weeks or keeps coming back, it’s time to see a chiropractor. Masking the pain will only provide temporary relief. The condition will get progressively worse.

How to Treat Nerve Pain in Shoulder Blade?

We perform a manual evaluation, imaging, and other tests to develop a science-based shoulder pain treatment plan using a functional medicine approach. That means we use therapeutic techniques that improve the mechanics of your body, relieving the pressure on the nerve. At the same time, you work with us to optimize the body’s natural healing ability.

With these tests, we can identify which nerve is being pinched. We then perform a spinal adjustment to relieve the pressure on that (and any) nerves. Over several chiropractic sessions, we work to retrain the cervical spine into its natural position and keep it there. Acupuncture, home exercises, and nutrition can all be important elements of the healing process.

If you’re also experiencing “functional shoulder pain” in the joint area, then Graston technique, acupuncture, or dry needling for shoulder pain might be recommended, as well.

To get started, schedule an evaluation and treatment for nerve pain in your shoulder blade.

How Long Does Nerve Damage in the Shoulder Take to Heal?

Once the pressure is off the nerve, it takes 3-12 months for an auxiliary nerve to heal. During that time it’s important to keep the pressure off the nerve, so it doesn’t become re-injured.

After just one chiropractic session, most people will experience immediate shoulder nerve pain relief. After that, the goal of attending multiple chiropractic sessions is to ensure the spine stays aligned while the neck muscles and other connective tissues strengthen to support proper alignment.

You’re optimizing the body for proper healing.

Time to Experience Lasting Relief

Masking shoulder pain without treating the root cause will only allow the structure pinching the nerve to compress it further, causing significant and potentially irreparable damage. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help you get lasting relief from shoulder pain. Sticking with your treatment plan, including your home exercise plan, will allow you to maintain this relief.

Read More: What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

Photo 46422183 / Shoulder Pain © 9nongphoto |

Graston Technique For Plantar Fasciitis

Graston Technique Plantar Fasciitis Youtube

Are you an athlete? Do you enjoy playing sports? Hiking? Jogging? Or have a standing and walking-intensive job? Then you probably know about the common foot pain called plantar fasciitis and an increasingly popular way to fix it, called Graston Technique for plantar fasciitis.

The Graston Technique is a cutting-edge, non-invasive treatment for soft-tissue injuries that can stop plantar fasciitis pain in as little as a week. It reduces inflammation and helps the foot restore proper function. It has been praised by star athletes and is gaining traction outside the world of sports.

Read more


What is Low Back Strain or Sprain? – Causes, Symptoms, and Chiropractic Treatment

A back strain or sprain is when the muscle tendon or ligament goes beyond its stretch capacity where the muscle fibers get sometimes a little bit shredded or there are micro tears. Now I like to compare that to a rubber band. If we stretch a rubber band to its normal limit, it’s going to bounce right back. If we stretch the rubber band beyond its limit, then it may not take its normal shape or form and it may be too loose and vulnerable. And so that’s exactly what’s happening to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

To be precise, muscles are the belly of the muscle fiber, while the tendons will connect the muscle to the bone, and the ligaments will hold the different bony structures together. So all these structures are what make up parts of the back and there are hundreds of them and each one is vulnerable to a strain or sprain.

What does pain from back strain or sprain feel like?

So a back strain or sprain may feel like a muscle pull, a stiffness, or a tenderness. Sometimes it can get to a point where it completely puts you out, meaning that you might be on the ground unable to move. Because we have multiple spasms in the back. When that happens, there are very specific exercises and stretches that we can chat about and have notes about on our website. 

But if it gets to a point where the pain is unbearable, we definitely recommend seeking out medical attention, whether it’s with your primary care or your chiropractor, or even an Acupuncturist. 

if it feels more like a tenderness. Sometimes if you go in and you get checked by palpating or pushing on the bony parts or the muscle parts, it feels tender. Well, that could also indicate having a sprain or strength. And that’s important to differentially diagnose for any sort of more disc pain or more a structural deeper pain.

Sometimes back sprain or strain can actually affect the quality of life. It can limit how far you can walk. It can limit what home chores you might be able to do. And at that point, it’s important to take a pause, possibly get officially diagnosed, and get to a place where you can do some stretches and exercises to help alleviate the pain. Other things that can really help alleviate pain are Icing and resting. 

What is the main cause of back strain or sprain?

There’s definitely a multitude of causes. Sometimes a cause of a back sprain or strain could be overactivity. So doing a sport that could be more of a high impact sport such as running, jumping, box jumps, or jump rope, sometimes it can be doing a repetitive activity using your back multiple times in a row with forward folds or forward bends can cause a back sprain or strain.

There are definitely certain risk factors that may also cause back strains that could be a weight issue. So for overweight, that can make you more likely to have back strain. Also twisting and quick motions can cause that, especially if the muscle is not warmed up yet. A lot of back sprains and strains tend to happen more in the mornings versus the evenings because the muscles haven’t had a chance to warm up or get more active.

What are the symptoms of a back sprain or strain? 

Some of the symptoms could be a tenderness to touch at the structure of the back. Sometimes it can be more of an acute pain where it feels almost like a spasm. Sometimes when we’re having spasms it’s even hard to move. So, having rest and being still would be the best way to give relief to your back. The best way to rest your strained back is going to be on your back with your knees bent.

Sometimes it can cause an inability to move in a normal posture. So if you’re walking or standing you might be in a little bit more of a hunched-over forward position because of the spasm from the strain. Sometimes back sprains and strains can be worse to the point where you may feel it in the buttocks, the hamstrings, and even the legs. At that point, it’s important to go seek a professional to make sure that it is purely muscular and there’s no nerve involvement.

Sometimes back sprain and strain can last 10 to 14 days. A lot of back strains may even resolve on their own. But if it doesn’t, and it lasts beyond that 14 days, it’s important again to seek some sort of professional guidance.

How is a back sprain or strain diagnosed?

It’s important to look at not only the clinical aspect of it and the history of how the injury occurred, but also possibly some sort of imaging. With the clinical history, it’s usually from quick motions or repetitive tasks, so it’s important to get a thorough history of the injury. But if it gets to a point where the pain is unbearable and it’s harder to diagnose based purely on the clinical history, it’s important to get some imaging through an MRI most likely. An X-ray is going to look at strictly the bone structures, while the MRI is going to be looking at the muscular structures, the tendons, and the ligaments. And so that might be the best way to diagnose your back sprain or strain.

How does back strain affect the body?

A lot of times, back strain can affect the body in a way to create inflammation within the body and that can lead to pain. And of course, with pain, we have definitely some tools in our toolbox to help alleviate some of that pain. Most people tend to go with anti-inflammatories, Icing, and rest to resolve their back pain. A lot of back pain does self-resolve, but there are a few instances where it can last for quite some time.

Can back strain or sprain be cured?

Yes, of course. Yes, for the most part, back strain or sprain can be cured. As I mentioned, a lot of its self-resolving. But if it’s not, then it’s important to get again the cocktail of medications, meaning pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, resting and Icing, 10-15 minutes every hour as needed at the area of pain.

If it does not resolve in the first couple of weeks, it’s important to seek out professional guidance.  If it’s something a little bit more intense, it may require some treatment. And that’s where Chiropractic and Acupuncture care can really benefit in shortening that recovery period.

Who is more prone to Back Strain & Back Sprain?

Back strain and sprain are partly age-dependent. When we’re at a younger age, a lot of the back strain can self-resolve and get better a lot quicker with the shorter recovery time. When we’re over the age of 60, it may require more time, even up to a couple of months for it to completely resolve with the guidance of a professional healthcare provider that can help with therapy while you’re doing self-therapy or self-medication at home as well.

What are the best treatments to manage your back sprain or strain?

So to manage your back pain, there’s definitely a happy medium between being active and resting. A little bit of too much of either one can cause your back pain to get worse. It’s important not to be completely sedentary because that can dehydrate the muscles and tighten up the muscles. So it’s important to get a little bit of activity in during the day. Now, that doesn’t mean high-intensity activities, it usually means light walking, and light stretching. This can help to alleviate your back pain as well as have adequate rest in between. The best way to get your rest is going to be usually on a sturdier surface, maybe on the ground with your knees bent to help flatten out the back and take pressure off your back.

Physical therapy

A doctor or a chiropractor may also recommend physical therapy or rehab exercises to help reduce your back pain.

And sometimes that is with a physical therapist and sometimes that may be just rehab exercises at home. Light stretches and non-high-impact sorts of exercises can help to reduce pain and inflammation at those specific structures. A physical therapist may recommend more regular exercise, mostly on a daily basis with some rest days built into it.

Alternative treatment

For the best treatment of your back pain, your doctor may recommend, Icing, heating, ultrasound, shockwave, and laser therapy as other alternatives to help aid in the recovery of your back pain. In addition to that, here at Truspine, we offer great services at our clinic in San Francisco such as chiropractic care, and acupuncture care, and we have great referrals for massage therapy as needed.

Home remedies for back strain or sprain

Things that you can do at home on your own, in addition, could be again taking pain medication, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and basically kind of the do-it-yourself exercises at home.

What are the best coping mechanisms for your back strain or sprain? 

Now with coping mechanisms, there’s a multitude of options. What we want to be doing is definitely core strengthening. That’s going to be the most important thing to help prevent your back strain from getting worse or coming back. Now there are definitely some do’s and don’ts in terms of what you should be doing while going through back strain or sprain at home.

Do’s and Don’ts while coping with your back strain and sprain

That’s going to be limiting your sitting, especially on the couch, as well as driving for long distances. This can round your back and over-stretch the muscle fibers in the lower back, making your back vulnerable, and causing inflammation. So you definitely want to limit your sitting. You want to vary between sitting and standing as much as possible. You want to go on light walks if you can, to create movement in the back. Also, you want to make sure you practice correct posture, which means standing or lifting posture.

So you want to make sure that you’re using more of the lower extremities or your hips when you’re bending to pick something up. Whether it’s light or heavy, you want to make sure that you’re not bending at the low back and bending more at the waist. So having correct posture while you’re standing and sitting and lifting are very, very important. 

Best sleeping position for back strain and sprain

Sleep ergonomics is just as important if you’re a back or a side sleeper. It’s important to have possibly a pillow underneath the knees as a back sleeper. Pillow between the knees for side sleeping which can help keep the pelvis in neutral, so that way you’re not waking up with back pain and setting yourself up to feel pretty good for the rest of your day.

Stretching your body

Sometimes it’s nice to do stretches before you go to bed or even first thing in the morning, and you can even do both. I think it’s important to keep it loose before and after sleeping. Sleeping is a catatonic state which keeps the muscles stuck in one position, sometimes dehydrating the muscles because we’re not drinking enough fluids at night. It is important to do those stretches before going to bed as well as the first thing when waking up as prescribed by your primary care.

Hydrate body

Of course, during the day, it is important to drink enough water to keep the muscles hydrated. The general rule for drinking water is going to be half your body weight in ounces and that seems to be a pretty good thing to do to keep those muscles hydrated and flowing well.

Quit smoking

Well, another important piece is quitting smoking. It seems kind of out there, it seems kind of random. But smoking is a big risk factor for atherosclerosis, which can also cause calcification in the arteries and can cause you to have back pain. So reducing smoking can help with that, but also just decreasing inflammation in the body as well. So that’s an important piece.

Avoid stress

Also avoiding stressful situations for your back, which could be mental stress or physical stress. If you have a big deadline at work, that can cause mental stress, which can cause you to change your posture, causing more stress on your back. It’s important to take micro-breaks, especially if you’re going through an 8,10, or 12 hours/work day. Take those breaks to either lie down decompress or get a glass of water or even just close your eyes and meditate. So those are the coping mechanisms to help with your back strain or sprain.


When you are suffering from a back strain or sprain, you may find it very difficult to sit in one position for a long time. It can also put your active lifestyle to a halt. 

Are you feeling back pain? Well, that could be a back strain or sprain. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get your first phone consultation with us or even an in-person consultation where we can take a look specifically at what you might have.

Whether it’s a back sprain or strain or whether it is nerve related or joint-related. We have the experts to help you figure out and diagnose your back pain.

You can schedule an appointment with our San Francisco chiropractor to get correctly diagnosed or have a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Is Graston Technique Dangerous?

Is Graston Technique Dangerous?
Is Graston Technique Dangerous?

Is Graston Technique dangerous? That’s an understandable question. After all, Graston Technique instruments look a bit like modern torture devices. And you’ve heard that one of the goals is to break up (damage) tissues under the skin’s surface.

Common side effects include bruising, tenderness, and mild swelling. That doesn’t sound good!

But when you take a closer look at why Graston side effects occur, it becomes clearer that this non-invasive manual therapy may not be as scary as it seems.

What Is Graston Technique Used For?

This non-invasive method involves the use of specialized tools on the skin to disrupt the pain cycle and reduce scar tissue formation. This is also known as the soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization method (ISTM) and less technically as “muscle-scraping”.

The primary goal of the technique is to break down tissues in a specific part of the body so that they can re-form properly. The method will specifically target two types of tissues:

  1. Scar tissues (called adhesions) – These are found in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  2. Fascia restrictions – Fascia (plural: Fasciae) is a connective tissue that holds organs, blood vessels, nerves, and even muscles in place. They usually are very flexible. But repetitive, intense stress can cause problems. 

First, it identifies irregularities in soft tissues in a problem area—like the foot or shoulder. These irregularities include scar tissues as well as tight and rigid soft tissues. Once identified, we precisely target the abnormalities to improve function using tools to “scrape” the muscle and soft tissues (without breaking the skin).

Once “scraped”, the body restores the tissues—but more thoroughly. This eliminates the symptoms for which you sought the treatment.

Graston technique falls into the category of functional medicine (functional treatment). This treatment focuses on the root cause of pain and other symptoms—which is often mechanical.

When your soft and hard structures aren’t working together, this dysfunction causes pain, lack of mobility, and other symptoms.

Breaking down, scraping muscles? This technique does sound harmful.

But is Graston technique dangerous or just helping the body along? That’s what we need to find out.

As it turns out, breaking down tissues to “build it better” is a natural function of your body.

How Muscles and Tissues Heal Themselves

Several restorative functions kick into action when muscle tissues are damaged (which happens when you work out). Within about five hours, your body places a temporary “cap” over the damaged fibers to protect them and prevent excess calcium from entering the torn tissue.

Then a specialized muscle cell called the “nuclei” travels to the damaged area to jumpstart the generation of new protein strands to repair the damage. Your body uses these protein strands to repair the muscle.

Under normal circumstances, this repair happens fast. It only takes approximately 24 hours.

However, ignoring injuries, not alternating muscle groups in the gym, or having a physically demanding job can interrupt the proper healing and the development of fibrous scar tissue.

This scar tissue not only prevents further healing once in place. It interferes with your body’s mechanics. Every other soft tissue now has to work around the injury.

That results in strain, pain, and other symptoms.

It may sound like the last thing you need to do is “re-injure the injury”. But when done correctly, not only is Graston not dangerous. It eliminates the scar tissue, giving your body a “re-do”. This time it can get it right.

Keep reading: Graston Technique for Pain Relief

Download Our Graston Technique Brochure.

Learn all about the conditions treated, benefits and contraindications.

Is It Safer than Conventional Medicine Alternatives?

When comparing it to Western Medicine, is Graston technique dangerous, more dangerous, or less?

First, conventional medical professionals like physical therapists and osteopaths often use this technique with patients. So, it can be complementary to conventional medicine.

It’s generally respected and trusted and medical professionals.

Additionally, because the technique is non-invasive, it’s inherently safer than other methods a doctor might use to treat pain, such as surgery or potentially-addictive pain killers.

Does It Work?

It’s one thing to answer: is Graston Technique dangerous? But what does that matter if we can’t answer the question: Is the Graston Technique effective? So, does Graston Technique work?

It is shown to be clinically and anecdotally effective and is currently undergoing clinical trials for plantar fasciitis and arthroscopic cuff repair. A meta-analysis, which is a look and consideration of well-down studies, found that the technique is, “noninvasive and yet effective with the right kind of therapeutic approach” and that the difference between the study groups and control groups represented “clinically significant improvement” The researchers concluded that it worked best when combined with a holistic treatment plan, including nutrition, home and guided exercise, and other therapeutic methods.

In its current form, it has been trusted since the mid-90s by sports medicine professionals and chiropractors alike as a non-medication therapeutic technique to promote faster and more effective healing of conditions like:

  • Achilles Tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon connecting the calf muscles to heel bone)
  • Carpal Tunnel (nerve pinching in the narrow nerve ridge between wrist and hand
  • Adhesive Capsulitis (shoulder stiffness/pain)
  • IT Band Syndrome (Type of tendon irritation in knee and hip)
  • Lumbar Strain (Low Back Strain)
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Shin Splints
  • Golfer’s or Tennis Elbow

This does not prove that the technique will be effective on everyone. However, a professional can assess your unique situation to see if you may benefit from the method.

Read More: Top 5 Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

When Might It Be Dangerous to Have This Therapy?

You should not have Graston done on you if you have these conditions because it could be dangerous or make the condition worse:

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • An infection
  • Unhealed or poorly healed fracture
  • Tumor
  • Unhealed wound
  • Taking blood thinner
  • Cancer in treatment area or that has progressed to the lymphatic system
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Kidney disorders

If you’re pregnant, you should avoid having the technique performed on your spine, pelvis, or abdomen.

Is Graston Technique Painful?

Is Graston technique painful? Everyone experiences discomfort and pain differently. But the consensus is that the treatment is not painful. People generally describe minor discomfort.

After a session, it’s normal to feel soreness like when you have a significant bruise. But this only lasts a few days.

You should let us know if you experience “pain” during the technique. We can adjust the method or may need to perform other testing like x-rays or MRI to make sure something more serious isn’t causing the pain.

Is Graston Technique Dangerous?

So, can Graston technique cause damage? By definition, yes.

The instruments damage the soft tissues underneath without breaking the skin to break up adhesions and promote healing. This is part of a normal healing process and does not cause long-term damage. Any side effects will subside within a few days of a session, and expect notable improvement within a few weeks.

But is Graston technique dangerous? No. Now for most people. Graston can be a vital part of healing if you have a sudden or over-use injury.

To learn more about Graston Technique, keep reading: Graston Technique for Pain Relief.

Photo 236993473 ©


Chiropractor Vs. Massage Therapist: Which Is Better?

Neck pain, back pain, sciatica, a pulled muscle, knots—all reasons to consider chiropractor vs. massage therapist or chiropractor with massage. But you don’t want to waste time or money with a solution that won’t help you feel better. And honestly, while both do excellent work, sometimes chiropractor or massage is better——and sometimes both.

Many face this dilemma, torn between the two and struggling to commit. On the surface, they seem to get similar results. After all, both effectively prevent some conditions and improve the healing process while providing pain relief.

But in reality, their goals, methods, and benefits couldn’t be more different.

Understanding the difference between massage and chiropractic can tell you whether you need massage or chiropractor first or to skip one altogether. Chiropractors and massage therapists are very aware of the importance of each other’s methods. Most chiropractors will wholeheartedly recommend massage therapy for specific conditions and vice versa. 

Which one is the real winner? It depends on your unique situation, so take the chiropractor vs. massage therapy quiz to find out. Or read on to learn more about these two effective methods for managing pain and stress.

Take the quiz now to find out which is better for your situation.

Chiropractor Vs. Massage Therapist: What’s The Difference?

Massage vs. chiropractor
Chiropractor Vs Massage Therapist

What’s the difference between chiropractor and massage therapist? What’s better massage or chiropractor?

The debate of chiropractor vs massage therapist continues. But they have a lot in common. Both chiropractic treatment and massage therapy have roots in ancient Chinese culture. The treatments are considered holistic care and promote health and wellness. Like many holistic methods, they increase the body’s ability to heal itself without medication or surgery.

However, in practice, they are very different.

Chiropractor – Supporting Spinal Alignment for Better Function

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive method designed to identify and restore proper range of motion. The primary goal of chiropractic care is to support a healthy neuroskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and other connective tissues.

But by far, the skeleton and the joints are the most critical pieces.

Your skeleton is your body’s structural support, and the spine is by far the most critical part of your skeleton. When it’s not aligned, you may experience pain, tension, pinched nerves, inflammation, unnecessary wear-and-tear on joints, and sudden or increasing loss of mobility.

Chiropractors focus on bone alignment as the root cause of these issues.

This care can support strength, mobility, and a faster, more thorough recovery after an injury. Similar to a dentist recommending that you brush and floss in between visits to maintain tooth and gum health, a chiropractor will also recommend an at-home exercise regimen and ongoing visits to reinforce the adjustment and help you experience lasting relief.

They may additionally suggest other therapies like nutrition therapy, acupuncture, and massage to enhance your results.

Do chiropractors do massage therapy? Many ask this. Usually, chiropractors do not do massage. A chiropractor could hire a massage therapist to provide massage within a chiropractic clinic as a separate service. But chiropractors and massage therapists require different skills and education.

Massage Therapist – Easing Tension to Support Wellness

In massage therapy, the primary practice is the manipulation of soft tissues—mostly muscle groups. This manipulation comes with improved circulation and flexibility, and relaxation. It stimulates the nervous system and promotes tissue healing. It can reduce out-of-control inflammation.

Regular sessions can promote mental and emotional well-being as well. And since mind-body-emotions are all connected, this can promote overall physical health and wellness.

Either chiropractic or massage therapy can help you manage chronic pain. And chiropractors and massage therapy together can be even better. Still, the key difference between massage and chiropractic remains. Massage doesn’t impact the root cause of the pain (misalignments in the spine).

So yes, massage can have immediate benefits. But even with repeated massage sessions, the pain keeps returning unless you also work on the root cause—improving your structural integrity. On the other hand, chiropractic can.

Take the quiz to find out if you need chiropractic vs. massage.

Chiropractor Vs. Massage: What Do They Do?

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractors are primary healthcare providers that can treat several conditions. Their main goal is to release subluxations in the spine. Subluxations occur when a vertebra (a single backbone) moves out of alignment with the other vertebrae. This is quite often visible on an X-ray.

Chiropractors generally use spinal manipulation and manually applied force or pressure to joints to adjust the spine, bones, and joints into proper alignment. As a chiropractor, I’m trained to feel misalignments and correct them.

Chiropractic Evaluation and Diagnosis

During your first visit, a chiropractor performs a complete evaluation to understand where misalignments and dysfunctions in the neuromuscular system exist. This will allow them to develop a personalized treatment plan to address them. They’ll ask you to perform specific movements and also guide other motions to understand better how your body is working—or isn’t.

This evaluation may include imaging tests like X-rays or MRI to confirm the injuries that a chiropractor can feel.

Chiropractic Treatment

Depending on your diagnosis, the chiropractor may perform a chiropractic adjustment during the initial visit.

In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors may use limited massage, splints, braces, physical therapy or shockwave therapy. They may also order X-rays and refer patients to other medical specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons or physical therapists when needed.

Chiropractors may give nutritional advice and prescribe vitamin regimens and exercise as a treatment. They may also recommend that you see a massage therapist.

For example, upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on the cervical spine. This is the part of your backbone located along the back of your neck. Misalignments here can lead to pinched nerves, upper body numbness, muscle spasms, and pain. In severe cases, you may develop cervical spinal stenosis and severe neuropathy.

Ultimately, the nerve signals traveling from the brain stem into the spinal cord become disrupted. This confuses the messages your brain and body are trying to send each other.

This can lead to seemingly unrelated medical conditions like tension headaches, TMJ pain, bruxism (teeth clenching or grinding), and mid to lower back pain.

Chiropractic Care Targets the Root Cause of Most Pain

Chiropractors target two vertebrae known as atlas and axis, found where the skull and brain stem connect with the first spinal vertebra.

Once they restore the balance with a chiropractic adjustment, that nerve signal flow is restored, and your body knows how to do the rest, fixing itself.

This enables the body and the nervous system to operate at their best possible level.

But chiropractors don’t focus solely on the spine. Chiropractors are responsible for treating the entire musculoskeletal and neuromuscular system, with the spine a primary focus because of the importance of the spinal cord.

In other words, we are treating bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

chiropractor vs. massage therapist

What Does a Massage Therapist Do?

On the other hand, massage therapists are experienced in treating only muscular conditions and in helping relieve muscle pain, stiffness, and tension through hands-on treatments. That’s the big difference between massage and chiropractor.

Through massage, they can relieve inflammation short-term, which can undoubtedly improve nervous system function (if there is no nerve obstruction like a misaligned vertebra) and allow the body to heal soft tissues. This can also improve blood flow, lymphatic system drainage, and blood circulation for a time after the massage.

They focus on the muscles and soft tissues and perform one or several types of massage, often using different oils or lotions.

The massage therapist can also use different techniques: Each has different goals, so you should discuss what you want to achieve from massage with your therapist.

They may offer:

  • Swedish
  • Deep Tissue
  • Sports
  • Hot Stone
  • Chair
  • Prenatal
  • Trigger Point
  • Geriatric

For example, a sports massage is a very intense massage intended for athletes. Its goal isn’t to relax the client but to promote connective tissue health to reduce the risk of injury.

Types of massage therapy
Types of Massage Therapy

Massage vs. Chiropractor: Their Origins

According to Western Medicine, Daniel David Palmer founded the chiropractic profession in 1895. He studied human anatomy and concluded that many ailments resulted from pressure on the nerves from structural issues in the body.

Without a doubt, Palmer certainly expanded the science of chiropractic and normalized it in the Western World. However, even Palmer himself never said he invented chiropractic.

Writings about chiropractic adjustments date back to nearly 5000 years ago in what is now China, with separate writings in Greece some 2500 years later.

The first documentations of massage also date back around 5000 years to India’s Ayurveda medicine. Within this ancient set of health restoring and maintenance practices, massage is still revered and seen as an essential part of holistic health and optimal wellness.

References to early massage healing practices are also found in ancient Chinese and Egyptian writings.

Chiropractor Vs. Massage: Their Philosophy

Each profession offers benefits to the patient. But the approaches are not the same.   

A chiropractor’s approach is not necessarily just focusing on the area of pain only to provide temporary relief. They focus on “WHY?” the individual is experiencing those symptoms.

On the other hand, massage therapists provide more temporary relief. They are treating the symptoms but not the reason for those symptoms.

How Often Are Chiropractor Visits Needed

This depends on what your chiropractor is treating, its severity and personal goals. Generally, weekly to monthly visits are enough to reset the structural misalignment and relieve nervous system pressure and symptoms you experience from it. You should see significant improvements within 2 to 4 weeks with weekly visits.

However, for a time, these improvements need to be maintained with ongoing chiropractic care.

Through holistic functional medicine, a chiropractor’s longer-term goal for patients is to strengthen their joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles’ ability to support healthier alignment when possible to the point that you no longer need a chiropractor or need to see them less frequently.

This can take several months or years. And some patients may need to see their chiropractor on an ongoing basis.

How Often Is Massage Therapy Needed

This can vary widely. At least once a month is a good starting point. If you’re actively working with a chiropractor with massage therapist to resolve a specific ailment, then your chiropractor may recommend massage before or after each adjustment.

Chiropractic adjustments can cause soreness as the body tries to reset itself. Chiropractor with massage care can ease the soreness to speed your body’s natural healing processes.

So, if you’re receiving chiropractor with massage, you will align massage appointments with a chiropractor. That means getting a massage more often.

You may be wondering can chiropractors do massage therapy? Yes, some do. Others focus primarily on chiropractic and other functional medicine areas like nutrition, acupuncture, laser therapy, etc., as we do in our clinic.

Massage Vs. Chiropractor: Education and Training

One of the most significant differences between chiropractors and massage therapists is their educational background. Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who need a four-year undergraduate education and a four-year doctorate in chiropractic.

During their programs, chiropractors pass several rounds of boards and certification tests and take classes in physics, chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physiology.

Massage therapist school, on the other hand, typically includes around 500 hours of training. However, this does vary from state to state. After training, they have the option to become licensed by completing FSMTB’s MBLEx exams that cover pathology, kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, body systems, and business ethics.

All of this can take 2 years or fewer.

Is Chiropractor or Massage Better?

So, many wonder: is chiropractic better than massage or vice versa? But the truth is both are very useful tools for restoring and maintaining function and easing symptoms related to that dysfunction. In some cases, chiropractor care is better, but massage can get the job done in others. In most situations, a chiropractor with massage is best.

Take our chiropractor vs. massage therapist quiz to see which we might recommend based on your unique symptoms and goals. You may be surprised which works best for common issues like these:

Chiropractor Vs Massage for Sciatica

Sciatica is a nervous system disorder involving sharp pain going down the legs from the lower back. It has several possible causes, from diabetes to herniated discs to bone spurs. The cause determines whether massage or chiropractor is best for sciatica. Sometimes, both. Other times, neither.

Chiropractor Vs Massage for Knots

What people refer to as knots are typically points of tension that can lead to tight or jumpy muscles. This results from unbalanced repetitive motion often combined with the underuse of nearby connected soft tissues.

Chiropractor Vs Massage for Back Pain

Massage may be just what you need to relieve occasional back pain. We encourage you to learn when chiropractor care may provide a better solution by taking the quiz.

Chiropractor or Massage of Neck Pain

Similarly, neck pain can have many causes, from compression in the cervical spine to poor sleeping habits.

Chiropractic or Massage for Pulled Muscle

While massage may seem like the clear choice for muscle issues, you need to ask why your muscle is getting pulled.

Chiropractic or Massage Therapy for a Neuropathy

Similar to sciatica, neuropathy is a nerve disease that may be caused by diabetes, poor circulation, or spinal dysfunction among other causes.

Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy Are Better Together

Ultimately, a balance of these two therapies can provide patients with the best outcome possible. Massage therapy can help loosen the muscles before or after a chiropractic adjustment. A chiropractic back adjustment can last longer when a patient’s muscle tension is released.

As a result, the body has the best chance to heal itself after an adjustment.

Chiropractor with massage
Pre-Chiropractic Massage Therapy

Photo 256747589 © Yuri Arcurs |

The Benefits of Seeing a Chiropractor with Massage Therapist

Massage can break up adhesions. These are abnormal bunching of tissues that happen due to inflammation and injury.

With these adhesions broken up, the tissues can stretch and move more easily. As a result, the soft tissues adjust to chiropractic adjustments more readily. Massage also increases circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients soft tissues need to heal themselves.

It also improves lymphatic function. One of the roles of the lymphatic system is to drain excess fluid and carry dead and dying cells out of the body, both critical to the immune system’s function in the healing process.

That’s why you may experience less soreness after a chiropractor visit when preceded by a massage appointment a day or so before.

Do I Need A Chiropractor Or Massage Therapist First?

Both chiropractic care and massage therapy can be helpful preventative measures to avoid the pains and discomfort that come from everyday life.

Possible Injury, Ongoing Radiating Pain, Sudden Unexplained Pain, Nerve Pain

In these cases, it is typically best to visit a chiropractor first. They will be able to ensure it is safe to see a massage therapist. So when choosing between chiropractor or massage first? Chiropractor.

Chiropractic care is better if you have joint pain, spinal disc issues, or pinched sciatic nerve. A chiropractor will identify the cause of your pain, whether it is muscular or skeletal, and help choose the correct treatment course.

Muscle Pain, Soreness, Stiffness, Need to Relax

If your primary issue is muscle pain or stiffness, or you are looking to simply relax and unwind, massage therapy is the right option. By massaging, massage therapists can increase circulation to the affected area, relieving the buildup of lactic acid that often causes muscle spasms and pain.

If you are still debating chiropractor vs. massage therapist, you should always consider getting professional advice from a licensed and trained chiropractor.

There are other individual factors to consider. Take the massage therapist vs. chiropractor quiz to learn which is better based on your unique health challenges and situation.


What Causes Spinal Stenosis? What Are The Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Available Treatment?

Spinal stenosis causes wear and tear in the spine leading to the advanced stage of arthritis. Spinal stenosis is a result of a reduction in the space in the backbone.

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis involves losing space inside the spinal canal. Just like you can have stenosis of the freeways when there are a lot of cars going through, you can have encroachment on the spinal canal. Now, it’s most common in the lumbar part of the spine, which is the lower back. Degenerative changes can take up space inside that canal. Less space means more pressure on the nerves and thus more irritation.

What does pain from spinal stenosis feel like?

Spinal stenosis pain is mostly felt in the back or in the legs. But spinal stenosis may not cause any pain at all. It can cause more intense symptoms such as progressive weakness in the lower extremities, again, meaning the legs. If it gets bad enough, it can also cause some bodily functions to lose control, such as the bladder and bowel movements.

What is the main cause of spinal stenosis?

The main cause of spinal stenosis is degenerative arthritis or instability in the spine. Some of the symptoms of spinal stenosis could be numbness in the legs due to pinched nerves, and loss of motor function as well into the lower extremities. The symptoms are mostly as you might take notice, caused by squeezing of the nerve root. Symptoms again most often occur in the lower extremities or the legs. Standing or walking can sometimes exacerbate or make your symptoms feel a lot worse.

How is spinal stenosis diagnosed?

Spinal stenosis is predominantly diagnosed with either an MRI or a CAT scan, and it’s reviewed by a radiologist and discussed with your primary care.

What part of the body does spinal stenosis affect?

It can definitely affect the neck, back, or low back. Meaning the mid back or low back. It can also cause difficulty with walking. Classic spinal stenosis can be presented with shorter distances of you being able to walk, along with much more.

How does Spinal Stenosis affect the body?

First and foremost, Spinal Stenosis can affect the neck, mid back, or the low back. Depending on what parts of the body it affects, you may get different types of symptoms. Some symptoms may be an effect of Spinal Stenosis of the lower part of the body, meaning the lumbar – could be difficulty with walking. Sometimes you may even be able to walk shorter distances, but you tire much quicker than you normally might. Spinal stenosis can also affect the neck and upper back. With those, you may get more arm & hand symptoms.

What types of people are prone to developing Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis generally affects the older population, so we’re looking at 60, 70 plus. As we age, there are more chances of degenerative arthritis, which can cause spurring and consequently, Spinal stenosis.

Can spinal stenosis be cured?

Spinal Stenosis is not curable. Good therapy and some activity modification can help to manage it. If the case shows severe symptoms, experts will immediately recommend surgery.

What are the best treatments to cure or manage Spinal stenosis?

If spinal stenosis gets severe enough, experts may recommend surgery to free up or decompress the nerves, causing less inflammation and less irritation. Professionals make use of the decompression fusion process to achieve this.

Surgery is indicated with advanced arthritis leading to pinching of the nerve or instability of the spine. Remedies that you can do to prevent getting to a point of surgery would be chiropractic treatments, acupuncture treatments, and physical therapy. That would be the best three-prong approach. The chiropractic is great, therefore really loosening up the joints, taking pressure off the nerves. Where acupuncture comes in is decreasing inflammation and irritation around the nerves and eventually, you’re going to want to strengthen those muscles and ligaments around the spine to help hold the structure. So physical therapy or rehabilitation is important mostly long term. So again, chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy are definite musts with spinal stenosis.

Other things that could definitely be beneficial would be palliative care such as massage therapy, as well as flexion-distraction types of exercises that can help pump the lower back. And this pumping mechanism with these flexion distraction exercises can help get nutrients and water through an imbibition process to the discs to help really get all the nutrients to the disks as quickly as possible.

How can a person suffering from Spinal stenosis cope with the disease?

In addition to doing the recommended therapy, it’s important to keep active, keep moving and keep things fluid. Going on daily walks can help. Experts recommend more flat walking, so avoid hilly areas and high elevations.

Another thing that could be very beneficial would be swimming. Swimming kind of helps take the weight off the body and takes your joints through a full range of motion, loosening up the area, and de-inflaming the area.

Making sure that you have good sleep ergonomics, as well as sitting and standing ergonomics. So it’s important to get an Ergonomic professional to possibly take a look at your setup to make sure that you’re doing everything you can possibly not to irritate the area any further. One thing to note is that when Spinal stenosis gets bad enough, it can cause radiating symptoms. So symptoms down the legs as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction. If we get to this point, it’s really important to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. This could indicate a surgical intervention and that’s probably what our experts at Truspine would recommend at that point in time.

Are you having shooting pains down the back of your legs? This could be spinal stenosis. At our San Francisco clinic, we have spinal stenosis experts that are ready to take action, evaluate and give you the right and best care plan. It’s important to get a very thorough examination. Give us a (415) 421-1115

You can schedule an appointment with our San Francisco chiropractor to get correctly diagnosed or have a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Does Chiropractic Help? Yes, it helps with these 3 health concerns

A common misconception about chiropractic care is that the practice isn’t an authentic medical treatment. I would like to set the record straight by saying that chiropractors are designated as physician-level providers. This means that they are medically trained to treat disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system.


The ACA estimates that chiropractors treat more than 35 million Americans annually for a range of health concerns. Three in every group of four people describe chiropractic care as very effective. What top health concerns are among those that ail the general population, and how do chiropractic adjustments address these? Keep reading to find out.

Who Should I See For Back Pain?

Your first choice should be to look for a non-surgical treatment that focuses on spinal manipulation and mobilization. We now know that chiropractic adjustments can restore the mobility of joints that get restricted due to tissue injury. As we’ve previously discussed in A Blessing for Back Pain Relief, this tackles the root of the problem of back pain — which can be either a stuck joint, a muscle sprain, or a strain.

An estimated 40% of Americans with lower back pain or more than 7.7 million people would rather see a chiropractor than a medical doctor. This is because the latter’s specialty would be the management of pain through the prescription of muscle relaxers, pain relievers, and inflammatory reducers. The former enables our body’s self-healing process without medication or surgery.

Can Chiropractic Care Help Quick Smoking? 

Experts have found that smoking contributes to lower back pain. Chiropractors encourage their patients to quit smoking to manage body pain and much more. Additionally, Tobacco Free Life explains that the knock-on effect resulting from back pain and poor posture encourages smoking for stress relief. Addressing back pain medically, therefore, will reduce stress and discourage smoking behavior.

The effect isn’t direct, of course. However, when combined with evidence-based approaches to quitting smoking, it can be easier to avoid relying on cigarettes. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)—like the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenge—is proven to increase your chances of quitting. Prilla notes nicotine pouch use is growing throughout the US as a discrete means to consume nicotine in moderation. This smokeless “modern oral nicotine category” similar to nicotine gums and patches can be used in public spaces like the office where back pain tends to flare up.

Chiropractic adjustments can help you get rid of back pain that leads to nicotine cravings. Thus, slowly decreasing the reliance on nicotine.


Another epidemic in the US is the growing rate of obese adults and children. Surprisingly for most, chiropractic treatment addresses this in different ways by tackling the root cause. By not simply treating symptoms, it seeks to prevent future weight gain.

First is by moderating communication between the brain and the digestive tract, through spinal manipulation. This regulates the physical appetite for food while simultaneously reducing body and back pain due to excess weight.

Otherwise, Gym Trends 365 emphasizes that chiropractic care improves athletic performance by making daily movement more comfortable. This encourages exercise and other physical activity, which many obese people with pain tend to shy away from. The resulting production of serotonin can then induce a cycle of healthy diet and exercise habits.

As a form of holistic care, chiropractic treatment doesn’t just care for a current issue in isolation. A traditional chiropractor looks at a patient’s whole body and how everything interacts. This holistic view shows them how body pain can have a cyclical relationship with things like obesity or smoking behaviors. They should thus be treated together and not separately.

Whether it’s your brain, muscles, nerves, skin, or even your emotions, chiropractic treatment aims to keep every part working so that you can feel better. For more information on chiropractic care, check out our other blog posts at Truspine


Back Pain | Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Your back is out of your line of sight most of the time. So you may not think about it much — until it hurts. But your back is central to your ability to work, play, relax, be intimate, and generally live a high-quality life. When back pain steals that from you, you need a plan to stop the pain and reclaim your life.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone is different, so in this complete guide to back pain, we’ll take a deep dive into it. First, what is back pain? Then…

  • Back pain causes
  • Back pain symptoms
  • Home remedies that work
  • Effective ways to prevent back pain
  • Back pain treatments. We’ll include both holistic and conventional medical treatments.

What Is Back Pain?

Back pain usually refers to generalized pain in the back. It’s one of the main reasons people seek medical treatment. It’s also the most common cause of disability not just in San Francisco, not just in the United States, but around the world.

The causes of back pain are many. And we’ll take an in-depth look at each of them. But regardless, back pain affects the muscles, bones, joints, discs, and ligaments. Back pain is always a symptom of dysfunction within these structures. 

Localized vs. Radiating Back Pain

Some people experience back pain in one area, and always that area. We call this localized back pain. For example, you may have:

  • Lower back pain
  • Back pain middle
  • Back pain lower left side
  • Back pain lower right side
  • Back pain upper middle
  • Back pain in the middle of the back

But it can also radiate from a source (or root cause) of the pain. This radiating back pain (also called traveling pain) can move around, so you may be unsure what you’ve done to cause it.

It can even make its way down your legs and into your feet. In fact, a lot of people experience stress first in their lower back.

What happens is the pain causes the joints and the muscles to stiffen up. Then inflammation forms around it. And that constant inflammation irritates the body. This is actually what causes low back pain—most of the time. 

Ultimately, back pain is more mechanical that anything else. It starts with misalignments in joints and muscles. Fortunately, this is what chiropractors help with, and with excellent results. 

Back Pain Symptoms

What does back pain feel like? It may seem like a silly question since you may be experiencing it right now.

But back pain can feel like a lot of things:

  • Soreness
  • Sharp pain
  • Dull achy pain
  • Stiffness
  • Sharp shooting pain

Take our Back Pain Quiz to see which treatment works best for your kind of pain.

Photo 93245768 / Back Pain © Wavebreakmedia Ltd |

Back Pain Causes in San Francisco

What is back pain caused by here in San Francisco? Back pain has several causes that impact people across the nation and the world, but they tend to be interrelated. In San Francisco, a lot of us work desk jobs with long hours and often struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

But more generally, it could be related to age, activity levels, weight, and other physiological conditions. You might be surprised to learn that psychological factors can also cause back pain. 

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re more likely to have a disc issue while those 60s, 70s & older could be at a higher risk for things like degenerative disease or osteoporosis. Below, we’ve created an extensive list of common back pain causes.

Dysfunction/Misalignment in the Musculoskeletal System

Back pain is caused by dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, and bones) and the nervous system (particularly the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system). Of these, the joints contribute the most because they direct how the other tissues move. 

Spinal Subluxation

A commonly overlooked back pain cause, a subluxation occurs when one or more of your vertebrae shift out of place. Physical trauma, chronic stress, and a prolonged poor diet can lead to this condition. Untreated, subluxations cause a domino effect on the body— back pain, bulging discs, herniated discs, and loss of mobility, just for starters. 

Bulging or Ruptured Disc

Your discs are gel-liquid-filled cushions found between the individual bones in your back. Their job is to prevent bone-on-bone contact and to avoid pinched or irritated spinal nerves/ This allows you to achieve a full range of motion without pain.

However, when a disc bulges, it can push against the nerve instead of protecting it, causing irritation. If that bulging goes untreated, the disc can burst, leaking that gel-like substance. We call this a ruptured or herniated disc. 

Your nerves do not like this gel. It’s very irritating.

Repetitive Stress

Poor posture, prolonged sitting, and unsafe lifting can weaken components and sections of your musculoskeletal system, causing uneven stress. In the end, you develop the dysfunction experienced as back pain.

Weight-Related Factors

We would do you a disservice if we ignored the fact that excess weight can cause back pain. Weight gain definitely plays a crucial role in back pain and how the back works in general. 

If you have more weight to lift, move, and carry, this can take a toll on the body in so many ways. That extra weight puts more stress on the structures of the spine such as the discs, the joints, and the nerves.

Inflammatory Diet

A study of over 3000 participants by the University of Pittsburgh found those eating inflammatory foods were 42% more likely to suffer from lower back pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a decaying spine. As the spine wastes away, it causes more pressure down on the discs, irritating the nerves. 

Arthritis or Osteoporosis

In the older community, degenerative conditions like these may cause back pain. The medical industry considers back pain an “age-related” wear-and-tear disease, and somewhat unavoidable. 

Even here, back pain treatments do exist. However, prevention and slowing the process are certainly better options, which we will discuss in depth.

Schedule a 15-minute phone consult to discuss treatment options.

Psychological Back Pain Causes

Poor stress response, depression, and anxiety can contribute to back pain and make it seem worse. Several studies have demonstrated that people with overwhelming mental stress conditions have more back pain and experience it more severely. In fact, mental stress at least plays a role in most low back pain cases.

This may be due to practical reasons. For example, feeling depressed may cause you to spend more time in bed, exercise less, or not eat a nutritious diet.

Any and all of these would lead to weakness and dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system over time. But researchers also believe people with certain mental health conditions feel pain more intensely, primarily because pain-relieving neurotransmitters like serotonin are less present.

Spinal Stenosis

A less common cause of back pain, spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of the spinal canal through which the spinal cord travels. If this condition is caused by dysfunction of large structures, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, a chiropractor can help.

Take our Pain Quiz to see whether chiropractic, acupuncture or both might help.


Humans are complex and all of our systems are connected.

For this reason, all—or several—of these back pain causes can be at play at the same time. Because of the interconnectedness of back pain causes, you need a holistic back pain treatment.

For back pain, exercises, nutrition, chiropractic, back pain stretches, and conventional medical care may be needed to address all the back pain causes and help you finally feel back pain relief.

Schedule a 15-minute phone consult to discuss treatment options.

Back Pain Home Remedies

Back pain, especially very new back pain, can self-resolve with rest, stretching, and even some exercise. Yoga poses and back pain relief exercises specifically target soft tissues. They reduce inflammation, release tension, and help the body naturally re-align itself. As long as there is no traumatic injury, these are generally the first interventions people try. And they work!

But if your back pain lasts more than two weeks, we very highly recommended that you seek out professional care, especially if it’s interfering with your daily activities. It’s important to see your family doctor or chiropractor. 

Schedule an Initial Evaluation.

How to Prevent Back Pain from Coming Back

We’re of the mindset of “Prevention First”. If your back pain is currently occasional and generally mild, these preventive measures may stop it from progressing to a more severe condition.


A good exercise regimen prevents most back pain causes. But if you’ve already developed back pain, you need a personalized exercise regimen that specifically targets the tissues that experienced dysfunction, as well as, promotes whole body strength and function, since it’s all connected.

That may mean having your toolbox of exercises and stretches that you feel are having an impact, a positive impact on your back. 

Exercises may include a core strengthening regimen and stretch. These can tone, strengthen, and enhance function between musculoskeletal components. They can decompress the spine, allowing it to move more freely and naturally.

Two good ones are the Cat-Cow and Child’s Pose yoga stretch. So those would be important stretches to possibly include in a back pain scenario. 

With that said, you want to build whole-body strength as well. So weight training is an important aspect of preventing back pain. Putting weights on yourself tells your body to turn on muscles, which could help to keep your core nice and strong. 

Using a more structured approach with a trainer can also be very beneficial to keeping your back nice and strong. And of course, maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight enhances exercise’s ability to prevent the recurrence of back pain. 


Like any health issue, what you eat matters. Your body needs proper nutrition to function at its best. For back pain treatment and prevention specifically, eat more anti-inflammatory food like vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds. And eliminate inflammatory foods, most importantly sugar and processed foods. 

Other Preventive Lifestyle Changes

Additionally, consider some other lifestyle changes to prevent back pain:

  • Move more
  • Avoid prolonged sitting
  • Quit smoking
  • Set up a good sleep regimen
  • Commit to good sleep ergonomics
  • Work on your sitting posture, especially at your workstation
  • Alternate between standing and sitting 
  • Limit couch time

Replacement is always a better strategy than focusing on what you’re trying not to do. So, as an example, instead of saying, “don’t spend too much time on the couch”, replace it with more active hobbies. Even daily walks can help.

And we encourage you to Take our Pain Quiz.

All of the above are important, but by far, bad posture tops the list of back pain causes, so we’ll dig into this topic more deeply to really get at the core of back pain treatment and prevention.

Good Posture for Prevention and Relief

So, there are 3 scenarios where you can make the biggest difference with good posture. Stand, sit and sleep ergonomics are very important. 

One of the most important elements of good posture is your pelvic position. Always keep the pelvis neutral, especially when sitting. Making sure you’re ergonomically set up at the workstation, makes this easier.

If you find yourself resting on one hip or sitting awkwardly at the tip of your seat, ask why?

A neutral pelvis is one in which the base of the spine and pubic bone is on the same plane. At the same time, the left and right hips are in the same plane. In other words, your body isn’t twisted. You’re not under more pressure on one side or other, front or back. The pressure is applied neutrally. When in this position, the spine curves slightly.

Good Sleeping Posture

Sleep posture is critical because you spend a significant amount of time in one or a few positions. 

What are the best sleep positions for back pain?

  1. Back
  2. Side

In that order. The worst position is on your stomach, which puts stress on the spine.

But even if you are a back or side sleeper, there are some right and wrong ways of back/side sleeping that can cause or worsen back pain. And note, even if you were able to sleep in a certain position when you were younger, that doesn’t mean that position will work for you now.

Back Sleeping

If you’re a back sleeper, it’s important to have a pillow underneath your knees. This is to help keep the pelvis nice and level. A low pillow or no pillow under your head is best.

Side Sleeping

If you’re a side sleeper, then place a pillow between the knees while keeping the knees on one plane, which can also keep the pelvis level.

If you sleep on your side with one knee raised, you likely wake up with back pain because your pelvis is not neutral. The spine is twisted. But the simple act of putting a pillow under your knee can return your pelvis to neutral. 

Side Sleep Posture
Side Sleep Posture

Neutral Pelvis Photo 250325153 © Dragonimages |

Good Posture When Sitting

Similarly, back pain when sitting occurs when the pelvis is not neutral. Your desk setup should encourage a neutral pelvis and good posture as a whole.

And simple things like adjusting your monitor height to eye level can do this. Keep your keyboard and mouse pretty close to you. This will help you maintain your hip-torso angle above 90 degrees more naturally. 

You also want to choose a seat that’s going to be very ergonomic for your body type. Sometimes, you might have to experiment a little bit to find the right one. 

And it goes without saying, if you’re sitting for 8 hours a day, that will be way too long for most people. Build in breaks to get up and move more.

Good Standing Posture

Another thing that could be pretty important is standing posture. Keeping your legs evenly apart so that way we’re not standing on undistributed weight as well as taking breaks, that’s important. But you shouldn’t remain in one standing position for too long. Dynamic standing and moving around keeps your body from resting into a bad standing posture.

Dynamic Posture

Ideally, you shouldn’t stay in one rigid position for extended periods whether sitting or standing. Set up your workspace so that it encourages you to move around to reach things.

Sit-stand routines are great. But you don’t want to sit for 4 hours and then stand for 4 hours. Ideally, you’ll alternate every 1-2 hours. 

If you have to sit to work, make sure that you’re getting up every 45 minutes to an hour, moving around, walking, taking stretch breaks or water breaks and then coming back into sitting again. 

Lifting Posture

Avoid heavy lifting if possible. Team lift or use lifting support devices when you must lift something heavy. If you want to prevent back pain, set your ego aside and prioritize your health.

If you must, it’s important to know what proper lift posture is. Everyone says, “lift with your knees”. But they rarely explain what this means. 

  1. Make sure you’re centered with the heavy object in front of you. Keep the heavy items close to your body to keep them close to the center of gravity. Never try to lift from the side.
  2. Bend your knees. Simultaneously, allow the hips to go back and the chest to come forward. 
  3. Test the object weight. If it’s extra heavy but doable, spread your legs slightly and to either side. This can reduce strain. 
  4. Grasp the object firmly. Unbend your legs, using them to lift the weight off the ground. As you do your torso will naturally move back and your hips forward until your back is in a vertical position and legs straight. 

Photo 142457490 / Good Posture © Chernetskaya |

But you’re using your back, aren’t you? Well, yes. The difference is that when lifting with your back you use your back as a lever. When you lift with your legs, your back still comes up, but it is supported by your much stronger leg muscles.

Prepare for Heavy Lifting

If you know that you’re going to have a day of heavy lifting, say to move to a new apartment, it’s important to have a good routine or a toolbox of stretches and exercises that you can do before and after that difficult task to reduce the risk of injury. Joints, muscles, everything works best when you warm it up first. The after exercises can cool inflammation and allow the back to recover.

Ergonomic Products to Prevent Back Pain

This is definitely important, especially because we are in San Francisco Silicon Valley. Most of us are sitting in front of our computers for long hours on end. It’s important to set yourself up so that way we’re not adding to the damage. 

A few products that are just essential:

  • Lumbar Support – Something behind your lower back to help keep that nice lumbar curve 
  • Seating Cushion – It can reduce pressure points so you’re less likely to move into a poor posture to compensate for pressure-sore points on the body.
  • Seating Disc – You can get them on Amazon. It almost looks like a half-a-ball you can sit on top of. It encourages you to engage your core more often. It’s like you’re sitting on one of those nice big fitness balls without it being too distracting for you or your co-workers.
  • Ergonomic keyboard and mouse – Properly positioning these can reduce strain on the upper back and wrists.
  • Foam roller – I have a nice 36-inch foam roller at home and at the workplace. When you take breaks you can use it on the floor or wall.

How to Diagnose Back Pain

Of course, the first part of diagnosis involves listening to what your problems are and testing how well you can perform daily tasks.  But sometimes imaging is called for. This can identify issues that are hard to spot and confirm our original diagnosis through objective means.

X-ray is going to be looking at the bone structure to look at the alignment and disc spacing. An MRI will look more at the soft tissue and the liquid. So that will be like the discs and the nerves. Each has its place in showing us what we’re looking for.

We’ll get an X-ray if we’re suspecting a bone or joint issue, an alignment issue. An MRI might be taken more if we’re maybe assuming there might be a disc or a nerve irritation going on. 

If your back pain is paired with nerve pain, then a nerve conduction velocity test or an NCV test might be done by your primary care doctor as well. Other things could be a CT scan and blood work if there are other suspecting causes for your back pain.

Best Treatments for Back Pain

Now, I always get the question of what are the best treatments for back pain and there are many different types of treatments out there. But there are some clear winners. 

Of course, we encourage you to Take our Back Pain Quiz to see which might be best for you.

Chiropractic Care 

Chiropractic Care seems to be at the very top of that. Most types of back pain respond well to chiropractic care over a long time window. Most back pain is due to misalignment of the bones and other connected structures—something chiropractic care can fix over a series of sessions.


Acupuncture helps by addressing muscles and nerves. In combination with chiropractic care, they address the whole musculoskeletal system.

Dry Needling

Dry needling is similar to acupuncture but works differently by targeting trigger points that work as reset buttons for your body.

Complementary Back Pain Treatment

It’s important to note that neither chiropractic nor acupuncture is a quick fix. They take longer than your traditional or conventional forms of care but offer a more long-term solution because you’re treating the cause.

For this reason, if back pain is severe and causing significant disability, some people choose to receive back pain injections or oral medication while working on the root cause. 

Combining holistic treatment with conventional back pain treatment can be very effective. This is called Complementary Medicine or Complementary Treatment.  If this is the route you want to go, you’d need to also talk to your primary care doctor.  


A (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) or TENS unit is one holistic method that can provide some more immediate relief. Although IT IS temporary, so it’s important to also work on correcting what’s behind your back pain symptoms. 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is also very complementary to both Chiropractic and Acupuncture Care. It can loosen up physical tension and reduce the impact of psychological stress so that your body is in a better state to heal. 

Over-the-Counter Medicine

If you choose not to request pain injections or prescription medications from your primary care physician, you still have some options for instant relief. Temporarily, you can take OTC pain medications when you need them. 

But even OTC medications shouldn’t be taken long-term. That’s because they can cause hearing and liver damage among other concerns, so it’s important to keep your chiropractic appointments. That way, you’ll not need those medications long.

OTC back pain medications include Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, etc. These are also anti-inflammatory, which can support the healing process. You may choose to pair them with a prescription muscle relaxer. 

Steroid Injection

If your back pain is very severe, your doctor may even suggest getting a back pain injection, such as a steroid injection (corticosteroid injection). Back pain medication can be very effective at taking care of the immediate problem, so you can work on fixing it long-term. 

Injections can be very beneficial. In fact, they really give you pinpoint relief in the area where you’re feeling the most amount of pain.  However, again, long-term use can cause known medical side effects.

Other Back Pain Treatment Options

Sometimes it’s necessary to get surgery. 

We want to do everything possible to avoid that. And that’s why I do what we do as a holistic health clinic. I don’t want you to feel like you have to take your last resort and have surgery. Often back surgeries work by limiting how your back can move, which can cause a lot of discomforts, disability, and the need for lifelong pain medication, so this is not something you don’t want if you don’t have to. 

I work with patients who are trying to avoid surgery. Together, in most cases, we can keep you from getting to that point. 

Schedule an Initial Evaluation.

What to Expect at a Back Pain Appointment

Preparing for a back pain appointment

To prepare for a low back pain consultation at our clinic follow this back pain appointment checklist:

  • List out any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter and herbal or homeopathic remedies.
  • Write down any solutions you’ve tried and how they worked. How often were you doing these things and for how long did you try this?  Did you experience some relief, temporary or partially? 
  • Do you have an idea what caused your back pain? Did it start suddenly or has this been gradual? 
  • How does it affect your daily life? Are you struggling at work or sleeping? Maybe you can’t pick your child or grandchild up anymore? Or you had to give up a hobby you love. If you’ve lost something due to back pain, one of my goals is to help you get back what you’ve lost.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes. So avoid jeans or a thick sweater, because we want to make sure that we have access to different parts of your body, especially if it’s your back. We want to make sure we have access to your back. But, also, we want to make sure that you’re comfortable as we’re having you move around during your session. 

We’ll ask for some information ahead of time so the visit goes smoothly. Your appointment may last 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the severity of your back pain.

Possible Imaging

We may want to take imaging. So, we will refer you for maybe either an X-ray or an MRI, as discussed earlier, depending on what we may think your back pain is due to or what your cause might be. 

Now, if imaging is necessary, that doesn’t mean that we cannot start treatment right away. It just really is on a case-by-case basis. 

Consultation and Orthopedic Exam

So, at your appointment, we’ll do the consultation and an orthopedic examination. So, muscle testing. This involves pushing in the areas that you feel are painful, so we can get a better idea of the severity of your pain and where it is precisely.

Range of Motion and Ability

We’re going to have you moving around to test your range of motion. Can you bend forward? Can you extend backward? Are you able to pick an item off the ground? Are you able to get on our chiropractic table easily? 

Treatment Plan & Possible First Treatment

If we do feel like you’re a good candidate for our therapy, we’ll discuss a personalized treatment plan.

At our clinic, we have several tools and techniques that work well for different types of back pain. 

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Dry needling to soften up muscles and soft tissues
  • Acupuncture to reduce soft tissue dysfunction and restore balance in the musculoskeletal system
  • Nutritional intervention
  • Home exercise
  • Shockwave Therapy, to reduce inflammation
  • Laser Therapy, to reduce inflammation or quickly alleviate more severe pain
  • Massage therapy

If more cutting-edge technologies like laser and shockwave therapies are warranted for your back pain, we will definitely let you know on your first visit.

In most cases, we’ll be able to begin your first chiropractic treatment during your initial appointment. 

And by the end of your visit, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to take to get your type of back pain better and what that looks like in terms of a care plan.

Getting Back Pain Relief

We look forward to seeing you at our San Francisco clinic soon. Look out for Truspine. Our phone number is 415-421-1115. Give us a call and we’ll get you set up for your first consultation.


Is Active Release Technique the same as the Myofascial Release Technique?

The myofascial release technique is a way of manipulating and restoring movement to tissues that surround your muscles called fascia. The Active Release Technique is arguably the most advanced and effective form of myofascial release pretty much ever created. The Active Release Technique is a well thought or packaged form of the Myofascial Release Technique, and It requires a lot more mastery and education, and studies to get the certificate. Beyond chiropractic school, students and doctors are required to take more hours and have more practice to be able to be Active Release Technique Doctors or ART Doctors.

How does the Myofascial release Technique work and what conditions can be cured? 

The myofascial release technique is there to break up scar tissue or adhesions within the fascia. It really tends to help with disorders such as Temporal Mandibular Joint disorder or TMJ disorder, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A lot of our at-home desk workers or computer workers and engineers are really familiar with Fibromyalgia and headaches. It could be migraines or tension headaches, but releasing the muscles at the right spot can help relieve chronic pain in different parts of the body. 

How does the Active Release Technique work and what conditions can be cured? 

The Active Release Technique or ART is more pinpoint myofascial release work, and it helps a slew of different types of conditions, including neck pain, low back pain, tension headaches, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. It can also help with more uncommon conditions such as frozen shoulder pain and sciatic nerve pain.

Myofascial Release or Active Release Technique, which one is better for me?

It really, really depends on the type of condition that a patient may present with and how specific it is to where their pain points are, and if they have any referral pain points. The doctor will do a thorough examination to determine if the Myofascial Release Technique or Active Release Technique is better for you.

What are the benefits of Myofascial Release and Active Release Technique:

The benefits are similar in the fact that it will help increase the range of motion. It will help to take down your inflammation levels as well as help you get back into the activities that you are seeking to do. The other great benefit of both the active release technique and myofascial release technique is that it prevents re-injury. So opening up the joint, breaking up the scar tissue, or the myofascial adhesions can help increase that range of motion.

Hence you can use that joint fully. So that way we’re not going to cause another injury or a re-injury.

When should you not use the myofascial release technique or active release technique?

The Active Release Technique is a soft tissue method that focuses on relieving tension via the removal of adhesions, which can develop in tissues as a result of overload or repetitive stress injuries or RSI. 

Which types of conditions should not be using these techniques? 

That would be any sort of malignancy, aneurysm, tumors if you have pretty severe rheumatoid arthritis as well as advanced diabetes, or any sort of osteoporosis.

Use of Myofascial Release Technique and Active Release Technique at Truspine clinic:

At our San Francisco clinic, we practice both Myofascial Release Technique as well as the Active Release Technique. The providers are certified in providing both of these techniques and so you can rest assured. You’ll get the best possible treatment that is going to be tailored to what you need and your condition at our San Francisco clinic.  

What is the best way to prepare for the Active Release Technique?

At our clinic, we usually recommend that patients wear loose clothing or expose the area that needs to be treated. So that way our providers can get a more hands-on approach to treating you quickly and effectively to get your pain levels down. 

How much does the Active Release Technique cost? How long does it take to get better? 

Well, in terms of length of time depends on how long you’ve had the condition and how chronic it is. And so the provider will be able to determine that at your first visit or consultation. The cost of the treatment does depend on what areas need to work on. The costs are very standard and very competitive compared to other clinics in the San Francisco area.

Final Words

Do you or a loved one have a condition that might benefit from the Active Release Technique? Give us a call at our San Francisco clinic (415) 421-1115 or visit us at 150 Lombard Street.

At our San Francisco clinic, we are experts in treating many different injuries with active release techniques. Get on our schedule with one of our trained providers so we can start.

You can schedule an appointment with our San Francisco chiropractor or have a free 15-minute phone consultation.


Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture: How to Choose?

Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture

Are Dry Needling and Acupuncture the Same? If you’ve ever seen a picture of someone performing dry needling vs acupuncture, no one would blame you if you confused the two. After all, they both involve the placement of super-thin needles shallowly into the skin. Both can be used to manage pain — albeit different kinds.

But that’s the end of the similarities.

If you’d like to skip the explanations, go straight to the quiz.

What Is Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture?

What Is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique that targets trigger points on the body. This instructs specific musculoskeletal systems to “reset to default”. By doing so, they begin functioning as they were intended to.

It involves the placement of a tiny, single-use, dry needle into a trigger point. A myofascial trigger point is an easily irritated spot found on the fascia of a musculoskeletal system. Fascia is an extremely nerve-dense (and therefore sensitive) tissue that surrounds organs, bones, muscles, and other systems in the body.

Nodules and tightness can form within the fascia. A trained professional can feel these spots on your body. You can also feel them as isolated pain or tension in a muscle.

Placing a dry needle on this spot acts as a “reset button” for that network of tissues. We call it “dry needling” because the needle doesn’t inject anything into your body. The sterile, stainless steel needle instead works with your own body’s natural responses to get the desired result.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture also requires several single-use, tiny needles. The acupuncturist applies these needles shallowly to acupuncture points to restore optimal health.

Acupuncture points are not the same as the trigger points targeted with dry needling. Instead, they are points mapped out on the human body along life force (Qi or Chi) pathways called Meridians. These pathways manage the flow of Qi energy and connect everything, body-mind-emotions.

Since these are also connected, disruptions or blockages in one part of a whole person (That’s you!) can lead to dis-ease in another part of the body, mind, or emotions.

An acupuncturist targets these points by shallowly inserting needles into your external body (skin) to unblock Qi within the body (e.g., liver function) and restore balance in those energies.

So when comparing dry needling vs acupuncture, dry needling helps improve the mechanical function of the muscles and joints. Alternatively, acupuncture helps restore how energy moves through your body to promote overall health.

How Does Dry Acupuncture Vs Dry Needling Work?

Dry Needling Supports Musculoskeletal Balance

Your musculoskeletal system comprises muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Overuse, underuse, and misuse can cause this system to stop functioning as it initially did.

Unfortunately, modern life doesn’t promote whole body health. You use specific muscles a lot, and others hardly move. Just think of how often you use your right hand vs left hand, depending on your preference.

As a result, some systems overwork while others do not. They become weak. This creates an imbalance between them that can lead to abnormal stress. You may experience this as a localized:

  • Tension
  • Pain
  • Pinched nerves and nerve pain
  • Cramping up

If allowed to continue, this can cause degenerative joint diseases and a change in your posture. Misalignment slowly becomes the new normal. The body tries to adapt to how you’re using it.

Those who sit for 8-10 hours a day can find themselves particularly affected. Sitting muscles get stronger. Standing and moving muscles get weaker.

By targeting the myofascial trigger point, we can restore proper alignment and balance among systems.

Acupuncture Supports Optimal Health and Function

Acupuncture is a complex, and well-studied science of how Qi moves through the body. Through research and experimentation, ancient acupuncturists mapped out how Qi flows within the meridians. This allowed them to target specific acupuncture points to unblock the flow of Qi.

Keep in mind that neither acupuncture nor dry needling is a treatment in the way conventional medicine defines “treatment”. Both work by helping your body help itself. They can reset and activate your body’s natural tendency to want to restore balance and move toward optimal health. In that, dry needling and acupuncture are the same.

We can further explore the dry needling and acupuncture differences by looking at the types of conditions you might use acupuncture or dry needling for.

Take the quiz to find out which one may be better for you.

What Does Dry Needling Versus Acupuncture Help With?

Dry Needling Helps Primarily with Extremity Pain

Most pain in your extremities is caused by imbalances in the musculoskeletal systems. One system is working harder than another, overcompensating and causing strain. You may have experienced this when you’ve ever favored an injured body part and developed a cramp somewhere else because of the imbalance.

So activating the trigger points with a dry needle can help restore balance and reduce pain with conditions like these:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Hip Pain
  • Pain in the Glutes (Buttocks)
  • Knee pain
  • Achilles Tendonitus / Tendonosis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Other foot pain
  • Various muscle spasms
  • Dry needling for TMJ

Acupuncture Helps with Disrupted Qi Flow that Can Lead to Physical and Emotional Pain

Acupuncture can help with a broader range of conditions related to imbalances in the Qi flow. As a result, you may experience improvements in:

  • Digestive issues
  • Menstrual pain
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Depressed feelings
  • Migraines
  • General pain
  • Allergies

You’ll find a more complete list here.

While dry needling vs acupuncture for various conditions may sound straightforward, everyone is different and may need one, the other, or both to experience the greatest relief. For example, many want to know about Dry Needling vs Acupuncture for migraines.

Some people who have migraine, develop a tension headache that becomes a migraine while others see light flashes that signal the headache is on its way. These are just two of the different ways people experience migraine. Each calls for a different solution. For this reason, both dry needling and acupuncture can be effective for migraines, depending on the person and how they experience the condition.

When you take the quiz, you’ll quickly learn which might work best for your unique situation.


Dry needling is a fairly recent and modern treatment first practiced in 1979. It is growing quickly in popularity and respect in the conventional medical community. In fact, many physical therapists now learn this treatment as part of their training. They are adding it to their list of therapies they use to help patients with various types of pain.

On the other hand, acupuncture is an ancient Chinese Medicine practice dating back 1000s of years that is also growing in popularity and respect in the U.S.

Relationships to Conventional Medicine

American Medical Association (AMA)

The American Medical Association (AMA) has also presented acupuncture as a possible solution when they said, “Non-pharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain”.

The American Medical Association (AMA) calls dry needling an invasive procedure. That term sounds scary. But it just means that because a needle penetrates the skin, only a licensed practitioner can perform it. These include medical doctors, doctors of chiropractic, physical therapists, and doctors of acupuncture. The AMA and many other organizations consider dry needling to be a type of acupuncture. So it’s important to note many may use the term “acupuncture” when they are really talking about dry needling in research and vice versa.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

Similarly, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) says that physical therapists who are properly trained can offer this treatment to their patients.

National Institutes of Health (U.S.)

Acupuncture and dry needling have a lot of modern scientific research backing up their efficacy for a variety of ailments. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health a subset of The National Institutes of Health, “Results from a number of studies suggest that acupuncture {including dry needling} may help ease types of pain that are often chronic such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain… reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.”

Conventional medicine sees the benefits of acupuncture a little differently than a modern acupuncturist or ancient practitioner would. They recognize that acupuncture can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Stimulate blood flow
  • Stimulate the nervous system
  • Activate endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers

They see it as an integrative therapy complementing conventional medicine much like chiropractic or nutritional therapy. In the same way, it can work for people who are willing to stick with a treatment plan.

Dry Needling Therapy Vs Acupuncture Treatment Targets

Through years of education and experience, trained professionals can feel that tension and knots when they examine a part of your body. Often the location of these knots isn’t precisely where you have pain, since these systems pull on each other.

The practitioner knows that placing a needle at that trigger point causes the muscle to release that tension so that it can start working correctly.

On the other hand, acupuncture follows a well-researched and defined meridian map. This map dictates that placing a series of needles here, here, and here can restore the proper flow of Qi. The acupuncturist listens to the client describing their problems. Then, based on their understanding of the meridian map, they know where to place the needles.

Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture: Side Effects

All procedures and therapies can have side effects. So it’s important to only allow a trained and licensed professional to perform dry needling or acupuncture. Because needles are single-use, the risk of infection is minimal. Most side effects are mild and not enough to stop someone from having either done. Around the treatment site, you may experience temporary pain, bruising, and bleeding.

Image Source – Photo 111023937 / Dry © Sunlight19 |

Take the Quiz

Are you currently experiencing pain or conditions that may be the result of imbalances and blockages in your body? Then it’s time to learn more about which service might be right for you. Take the below quiz.

Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Neuropathy is a prevalent ailment or disease that affects 8% of the U.S. population. That’s roughly 24 million individuals. Now, this is sufficient background information to begin discussing neuropathy and what doctors can do to treat this illness. At any age, peripheral neuropathy can emerge. It can affect both the elderly and the young but primarily affects the elderly. There are several neuropathy causes, with diabetes being one of the most prevalent. Diabetes is responsible for 30% of neuropathy cases. And idiopathic or undetermined disorders are responsible for the remaining 30%. Therefore, they know that diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy. Now, diabetes can develop for a variety of reasons: High blood sugar, as well as genetic and metabolic variables.

Two forms of diabetes exist which are Type-1 and Type-2. Typically, type 1 diabetes is hereditary. Always, a genetic element is present in that. Type two diabetes is a lifestyle disease. This is when metabolic variables come into play.

However, regardless of the source of your diabetes, if it becomes severe and progressive, it can develop neuropathy in the hands and, more frequently, the feet.

Neuropathy Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

What is Neuropathy?

In case of damage to the nerves which originate from the spine, patients can suffer from neuropathy. Consequently, the brain’s spine is comparable to the hard disc of a computer. All of these nerves originate from the spine and travel to various regions of the body, including the hands and feet. When this nerve is impeded by a variety of causes, such as an obstruction or something pinching the nerve, less information may travel to the hands and feet. This may result in a variety of symptoms that doctors refer to as neuropathy. Neuropathy can manifest as a sense of burning or tingling. It may be a sharp, piercing pain. There may be numbness. It can be a motor weakness, such as limb weakness or fatigue. There may be muscle pain. Therefore, all these are symptoms that a person with neuropathy may experience.

Does stress or any other factors also cause neuropathy?

Apart from Diabetes, people always have this question, to what extent is stress a factor for the perchance of neuropathy? 

Stress is the main culprit of neuropathy. If you focus more on mental stress, there are slight chances it can be a cause of neuropathy, but most often, it exacerbates the situation over time. Now, physical stress on the body might occasionally induce impingement and neuropathy due to the high stress on nerves, which can lead to their damage if it persists in that manner. However, stress is unquestionably one of the elements that could aggravate your neuropathy or make you feel worse. Consequently, the specially designed program of doctors does include stress reduction or stress management assistance.

Outside of diabetes, neuropathy can develop because of:

  • Infections
  • Toxins
  • Tumors
  • Alcoholism
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Metabolic syndromes
  • Trauma
  • Chemotherapy

What are the early symptoms or warning signs of neuropathy?

There are a few early warning indicators of neuropathy. One of them is having a history of any autoimmune disorders or diseases that might be classified as diabetes. Consequently, if you have one of these illnesses, you might fall into the neuropathy group. 

In terms of symptomatology, tingling and mild numbness in the hands and feet may be among the warning indications. It could also involve occasionally losing your balance while standing or walking. These would be typical early symptoms of neuropathy. Also, when you’re lying down or in bed, it’s not uncommon for your hands or feet to fall asleep for extended periods.

Stages of Neuropathy: From mild to severe

Yes, neuropathy is a disease that occurs in progression. There are 5 stages of neuropathy, and it is highly advisable to start treatment in the early stages of it. The following are the 5 stages of neuropathy:

Numbness and Pain

The beginning stages of neuropathy involve pain and numbness. These symptoms will not be permanent, but you will experience intermittent occurrences. These initial signs of discomfort and numbness may be modest, yet you will notice their presence. For instance, you may have mild tingling or numbness in your hands and feet, which will ultimately subside. You may notice that your equilibrium and reflexes are slightly off-kilter if we compare it with a typical state. Frequently, the first symptoms reoccur every few weeks and become steadier with time. Due to their subtlety, the initial indicators of neuropathy are frequently overlooked.

Regular and Persistent Symptoms

In the second stage of peripheral neuropathy, pain and numbness become more consistent and regular. It is difficult to identify exactly when a patient’s neuropathy advances to the second stage. Still, it will become apparent when the patient experiences pain and numbness more frequently than before. In the second stage, it becomes increasingly impossible to ignore the present pains, numbness, and other symptoms. At this moment, many individuals sense that something may be wrong and seek medical assistance. If the treatment of neuropathy begins in the second stage, there is a chance of reversal of nerve damage; however, if neuropathy is left untreated after the second stage, nerve damage is frequently irreversible.

Debilitating Pain

In the third stage of neuropathy, you experience discomfort every day or nearly daily. In this stage, the pain begins to interfere with your regular activities and hinders you from functioning normally. At this time, you may realize that over-the-counter pain drugs are no longer effective, and you are unable to obtain relief. This is because, in the third stage of neuropathy, you are likely to have further nerve damage sensations and symptoms. In the third stage also, it is possible to reverse some nerve damage, but in the majority of cases, nerve damage is irreversible.

Constant Numbness

In the fourth stage of neuropathy, the patient’s legs and feet become extremely numb. This is due to a shortage of healthy nerves capable of transmitting impulses to the brain. You may experience a rise in numbness and a decrease in pain, neither of which is desirable. This is a symptom that the nerves are dying, and the majority of nerve fibers have been destroyed when this occurs. At this stage, the bigger nerve fibers have begun to sustain irreversible damage. During this stage, your equilibrium is likely to be compromised, and it may become difficult to walk while maintaining your balance. In the fourth stage of neuropathy, nerve loss is irreparable, and the majority of numbness is irreversible. At this stage, it is imperative to seek therapy to prevent the irreversible worsening of numbness. In the fourth stage, there may be a fair opportunity for improvement.

Complete loss of feeling

This is the concluding step of neuropathy, which occurs when the lower part of the legs and feet has lost all sensibility. You experience no pain, only tremendous numbness. This is because there are insufficient nerves capable of transmitting signals to the brain. At this point, walking has become quite difficult, and your equilibrium is seriously impaired. You may become so unstable as to require the use of a wheelchair. If you have reached this level of neuropathy and have completely lost sensation in your lower extremities, you must seek emergency medical assistance. In stage five, nerves are irreparably destroyed; however, regeneration of certain nerve fibers may be feasible.

So, these are the five stages of neuropathy as it progressively gets worse.

Diagnosis of Neuropathy

Neuropathy can be clinically diagnosed. It is based on the response given by the patients, generated by using various mechanisms.

Therefore, in the clinic, there is a technique that each patient must undergo to determine the loss of sensory nerves. Doctors usually examine what percentage of sensory nerves have been lost. For that, they put patients through a series of field tests in which patients are essentially asked to rate their level of awareness. It can be done through various mechanisms. It can be cold therapy, hot therapy, a sharp push, or a dull push. Consequently, according to the response of patients, they gather data and empirically determine the treatment procedure. They also constantly compare the results of our examinations to what a natural sensation might feel like.

How does Diabetes Neuropathy originate?

Apart from Type I Diabetes which is caused due to genetic factors, the inception of Type II diabetes can be traceable. Diabetic neuropathy due to Type II diabetes begins in the gastrointestinal tract. It depends on our dietary habits, and certain lifestyle circumstances are typically to blame. What are you consuming throughout the day? How are you spacing your meals, and what are you eating? Are you physically active or increasingly sedentary? Consequently, these variables can all contribute to the onset of diabetic neuropathy.

How to cure Diabetic Neuropathy? Is it curable?

Diabetic neuropathy or diabetes in general is a disorder that requires lifelong management. Diet and lifestyle will serve as the therapy’s base. Can you eliminate the neuropathy associated with diabetes? Yes and no. In other words, once you’ve lost feeling or sensation in your nerves, there is no turning back. Therefore, doctors want to be able to detect it before it reaches this stage so they can begin to halt the process and reverse the nerves’ degeneration. For the diabetes problem, the goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This would include any dietary modifications, additional supplements, workouts, and stretches the patient is comfortable with.

Treatment for Neuropathy in feet and legs

Everyone has a unique genesis for the onset of their neuropathy. As previously indicated, thirty percent of neuropathy is unknown. The amazing thing about the medicine that doctors provide is that it treats the majority of kinds of neuropathy. Of course, they evaluate you in the clinic to determine if you are a good candidate for art therapy. Still, there is a fundamental aspect of the therapy that applies to all types of neuropathies. The three primary components of art therapy are the in-clinic component and the at-home component, where at-home components can stimulate and rebuild nerves and nourish them. And the third portion will be the nutrition portion, which will aid improve circulation to the rest of the body and provide the nutrients to feed the nerves to keep them healthy.

Thus, a three-pronged approach is necessary to effectively halt neuropathy and initiate the reversal process.

Complications resulting from Neuropathy

There are a few, and if neuropathy has been present for some time and has taken root, the nerves may begin to die. Further, chronic pain, GI or gastrointestinal issues, dizziness or vertigo, and urinary or sexual problems are all possible consequences.

Occasionally, this could manifest as a total or partial lack of sensation in the feet or hands at that location. In such conditions, amputation is often a possibility, which, of course, is something you never want to achieve. Therefore, you should visit the clinic as soon as possible to begin treatment for this illness before you reach the point of requiring surgical intervention.

Why is early treatment essential in the case of Neuropathy?

The vast majority of patients have already gone to other doctor’s offices or clinics and have received medicine, or their primary care physician has sent them to a podiatrist or neurologist for treatment. They’ve tried everything and still haven’t found relief. This is because the information they’ve received has failed to address the root cause. 

You have to figure out what your nerves are lacking and give it back to them, and if you do that, they’ll come back to life again. However, “the point of no return” can exist. Neuropathy can put people in wheelchairs and even necessitate amputations in the worst-case scenario. You need to do two things if you are going to solve the situation. Ensure that the nerves are getting the blood supply they need while they’re recovering by stimulating their growth and restoration.

As a result, it is critical to begin treatment for Neuropathy as soon as possible.

What are the varieties of treatments which can be offered?

In addition to pharmaceuticals that are used to treat disorders that are related to peripheral neuropathy, the following medications are used to treat the signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Topical treatments
  • Anti-seizure medications

How does the conventional route of medicine treat the situation?

There are many prescription drugs for nerve pain caused by diabetes, but not all of them work for everyone. Consult your doctor about the pros and cons of any medicine you’re thinking about taking to figure out what might actually work for you.

What are the differences between a conventional route and Chiropractic treatment?

The standard medical approach is to begin treating individuals with neuropathy with medicine in the hopes that their symptoms may go away on their own. Sadly, this is not the case at all. Neuropathy usually gets worse. Neuropathy progresses so rapidly that it necessitates a second and then a third round of treatment from a doctor who will prescribe further pills to numb the symptoms but will never find out what is the root cause of them. It only works like a band-aid treatment to cover up neuropathy as it progresses.

Medications, Topical creams, and Anti-depressants are also used to help with the mental aspect of it. And it’s just a cascade of going down this rabbit hole of covering up the symptoms.

While at our Chiropractic clinic in San Francisco, we want to get to the root of the issue, start to help with your pain in a more natural way without the drugs and the surgery, and help you get your life back and to be able to go back to doing the activities that you’d love to do, which could mean something like going back to work or simply being able to do chores or going back to a favorite sport like activity.

The final word from the expert

So if you or your loved one. Is suffering from neuropathy. Whether it’s from diabetes or any other condition, give us a call today so we can help you reduce your pain levels and get you back to doing what you love.

With early detection of Neuropathy symptoms, chiropractic care can help to cure neuropathy and maintain diabetes with proper diet and lifestyle. You can schedule an appointment with our San Francisco chiropractor to get correctly diagnosed or have a free 15-minute phone consultation.