A herniated disc also known as a slipped disc, is an extremely painful and disabling medical condition which causes a tear in the spineís intervertebral disc. It is one of the most common spinal problems and it can occur at every level of the spine. The incidence is about 5 to 20 cases per 1,000 adults every year with men reportedly being more prone to suffering from it than women.



Besides the pain that this condition is inflicting, the treatment does not come without risks and many times, it even fails to produce results causing even more discomfort and frustration. Year after year, over a million people have surgery to repair herniated discs. These procedures are hard on any pocket and to add even more to the burden, at least 10% of people are prone to require a second operation following the failure of the initial one.

But what if there was a different way to address the pain without having to put so many people through additional unnecessary agony? This what experts at the Jinan Number Three Peopleís Hospital have asked themselves when deciding to embark on a journey of evaluating the benefits of a less popular treatment for herniated discs: acupuncture.

In traditional Chinese medicine, this technique was thought to benefit symptoms of various diseases by restoring the bodyís energy flow. However, after years and years of scientific evaluations it has actually been shown that at the very core of acupuncture sits the idea that inserting thin needles throughout specific pressure points in the body stimulates the nerves and produces desired benefits and improvements.

With this in mind, the clinical trial recruited 90 herniated dis patients with pain in either the lumbar, iliac or sciatic area to test the potential of warm needle acupuncture. All participants have been suffering from slipped discs for at least half of year to up to 4 years.

These patients were then randomized in two groups with one receiving postural adjustments combined with acupuncture and the other solely postural adjustments to better compare the effectiveness. The acupuncture group received daily treatments for 30 minutes over a period of 4 weeks.
At the end of the study, scientists were happy to report incredible results. An overall effectiveness rate of 93.3% rate was reported by the warm needle acupuncture group. Moreover, 19 patients said they could feel a 95% improvement in their symptoms and actually considered themselves cured and pain free at the end of the trial, in comparison to just 7 from the postural adjustment group.
Herniated discs have an extensive recovery time and many patients are currently treated with pain medication which can become highly addictive or surgical procedures which can lead to life-threatening complications such as nerve damage, bladder incontinence or excessive bleeding. While success rates are high for the surgery, it is important for patients to know it is not the only option available.