As an acupuncture and chiropractic office, our practice sees numerous low back complaints which often is tied into an issue with the hamstrings. It’s not unusual after an exam that we tell the patient that they don’t have a “lower back problem,” but a hamstring problem. This is due to the biomechanical role the hamstrings play in stabilizing the lower back. Just because you have an achy back doesn’t mean the problem isn’t coming from some other area. This problem is particularly true among runners and those who sit at a desk all day. The muscles in both the legs and lower belly can shorten and end up putting pressure on the hips and lower pelvis. Sometimes the muscles are so contracted that they can entrap the sciatic nerve which can mimic the pain of a disc condition. Consequently, as part of our treatment programs, we frequently send patients home with stretching exercises to supplement our office treatments.
So what’s the big deal with hamstrings anyway? A good question! When your hamstrings develop a problem, virtually all the mechanisms of the lower weight-bearing joints are affected. Additionally, since almost all motions of the foot, knee, or hip involve the hamstring it’s difficult to rest the injured muscles during the rehabilitation period. With regards to the back, the hamstrings basically run from the back of the knee up to the pelvis. When they’ve shortened up or become inflamed they can contract and pull the pelvis and lower back out of alignment.
While chiropractic and physical therapy treatments are useful, we often find it’s acupuncture that is needed to resolve the condition completely. Several of the energy pathways, also known as meridians, run through the hamstrings and by treating the associated acupuncture points we can finally get the muscles to relax. While the acupuncture needles are extremely small they’re perfect for penetrating deep into the muscle. This allows the trigger point to be released more effectively in a way that massage often can’t reach. Acupuncture has the added advantage of treating the other muscles in the low back and leg as well — which are secondary issues to the problem. Because of the way the body is “wired” a prescription of acupuncture points might involve treatment to areas of the upper body as well. This helps bring balance back to the body, reduces stress, and provides for a more comprehensive approach to fixing the problem. In practicing functional medicine, the focus is on treating the whole person and not just the immediate problem.
It’s also important to remember that in acupuncture each case is different. Your acupuncturist might prescribe a totally different protocol for you as compared to your neighbor. Some of that might involve herbs as well as more traditional therapies such as electric stimulation. You as a patient are unique, but healing is also an art as much as it is a science. Healing depends on your doctor’s perspective and experience in treating your condition.
So if you’re still experiencing an achy back after a couple of rounds of standard care think hamstrings and acupuncture. All you have to lose is your pain.
For a free chiropractic consultation with one of our doctors call us today at 585.586.7630 or complete our New Patient Survey to put yourself back on the road to health.
Dr. Sadlon has over 30 years of experience as a chiropractor and acupuncturist and provides treatment to patients in Brighton, Fairport, Greece, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Perinton, Pittsford, Rochester, Victor, Walworth, and Webster, NY.