Updated on March 30, 2015
Acupuncture for Scoliosis? It’s Worth a Stab
For my latest self-experiment to help my scoliosis, I’m seriously considering acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been one of those things I’ve always been a little leery of, mainly because I know they don’t know why it works, except for some loose ideas of “energy pathways” in the body being somehow affected by the puncturing of your skin by itsy-bitsy needles in certain places.
But despite my skepticism, every sane person I know who has tried it (presumably with a licensed, reputable acupuncturist) raves about it.
Plus, I’ve recently been diagnosed with another condition, one that apparently responds positively to acupuncture: PCOS, or “polycystic ovarian syndrome,” which affects fertility, among other things. I’ve heard of and read multiple stories of women claiming that they regained their fertility partly due to their acupuncture treatments, although I certainly acknowledge that other factors could have played a role in their healing.
All that to say, while I’m still a little wary of acupuncture, I do feel it’s time to try it, for scoliosis and PCOS reasons.
“We don’t know why it works, we just know it does,” as one of my doctors put it.
Well, sounds like reason enough to try for me.
But wait, seriously—you don’t have any scientific backing for this at all?
For trying acupuncture for scoliosis reasons? The best answer I have so far is, “Sort of.”
Take, for example, this 2009 study on a 74-year-old woman with kyphoscoliosis whose Cobb angle was 31 degrees and causing her tremendous lower back pain. According to the study, she did acupuncture treatments three times a week for six weeks, and found that her lower back pain decreased and that her Cobb angle went down by 10 degrees (!) after the six weeks of treatment were concluded. She still elected to have surgery “to have a better quality of life,” but still, that’s incredible!
Or the 2008 study referenced here, conducted by researchers at the Asklepios Katharina Schroth Spinal Deformities Rehabilitation Centre:
[The study] observed the effects of acupuncture in 24 girls between the ages of 14 and 16 with the diagnosis of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. On the first day, researchers divided girls into two groups that received 25-minute sessions of either sham acupuncture — with needles placed at incorrect points — or real acupuncture treatment sessions. Groups were changed the next day, so that all participants received one real acupuncture treatment. Although no improvement was observed in subjects with spinal curvatures over 35 degrees, statistically significant improvements were noted after real acupuncture treatment in a subgroup of patients with spinal curvatures that ranged from 16 to 35 degrees.
Honestly, I haven’t checked the degrees of my curvatures in years, so I could be over 35 degrees, for all I know (although I feel so good most of the time that it would be hard to believe), but these are also encouraging results.
And heck, they’re even using acupuncture to help an albino alligator in Brazil cope with his scoliosis, so there’s got to be something to all this, right? 😉
It’s worth noting that some places have “co-op” acupuncture sessions to help lower the costs. For example, one place I found in Austin, Acupuncture Together, charges only $20 for an acupuncture session in a group setting. If that sounds weird, bear in mind that the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and it sounds like great care is taken to ensure that it’s still a relaxing, healing environment.
As you’re looking for an acupuncturist (if you’re crazy like me and are willing to give it a “stab” [pun intended]), apparently one of the most important things to look for is that they’re a licensed acupuncturist.
Yes, apparently there are people running around who aren’t actually licensed to stick needles in people. Scary, right?
In most cases, I’m also finding Yelp! to be a great resource for acupuncturist reviews, so certainly check that out before booking an appointment somewhere.
Sadly, most of the acupuncturists nearest to me are not part of a co-op, nor are they heavily reviewed, so once again, I will be acting as the community guinea pig. At least it’s apparently very difficult for acupuncture to cause harm, so at the very worst, my wallet will be a little lighter and my symptoms no better.
Wish me luck! I’ll do a follow-up post once I’ve actually had the session, of course! 🙂
(Have you had any success with acupuncture in helping or treating your scoliosis? I want to hear from you! Leave a comment below!)