Alexander or Acupuncture?
July 28, 2011 5:26 PM   Subscribe

If you've tried Alexander technique or acupuncture for neck or back pain, did they work?

My husband has a herniated disc in his neck and is having a lot of pain. The orthopedic surgeon recommended, as a first course of action, trigger-point injections, anti-inflammatories, and PT. All fine. He also said acupuncture and Alexander technique (husband is a musician and has had to put down the guitar temporarily--this is a real bummer--due to pain) might help.

We may have to prioritize. If you've done either or both, did it help and which helped more? I'm leaning towards Alexander because it might get him up and running again on the guitar, which is good for his general well-being. And if you have any recs for practitioners of either, in NYC, I'd like to hear about them. Thank you.
posted by Ollie to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Previously. Also previously. I used to work in a music school where Alexander Technique was an integral part of the curriculum, so for a musician that would be my first choice vs acupuncture.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:44 PM on July 28, 2011

I have a friend who has naturally short hamstrings and found the Alexander technique to be a great help in correcting his posture/helping him walk on his toes less.
posted by limeonaire at 6:00 PM on July 28, 2011

Not Alexander Technique, but somewhat similar — Egoscue Method postural alignment therapy has been life-changing for me. I had 15+ years of chronic intermittent back pain, which every few years would rise to the cane/back brace/opiate painkiller level, before I found Egoscue. Now, as long as I do my exercises (takes about half an hour a day), I have zero back pain (really and truly, zero as in none) and am spending my away-from-work time climbing trees, riding my bike, running, and debating which I should sign up for first, rock-climbing or an acrobatics/tumbling class.

I've posted about it a fair bit here, and am always happy to talk about my experience and answer questions — just say the word if you're interested.
posted by Lexica at 6:29 PM on July 28, 2011

Can I just say I've had really amazing results from therapeutic massage?

Not for a herniated disk though.

Feldenkries (sp?) is an alternative to Alexander Technique. I know a guitarist who is quite successful and credits that for relieving his tendonitis.
posted by sully75 at 6:54 PM on July 28, 2011

I worked in spine research for a few years, and commend you (and the ortho!) for seeking so-called conservative treatment rather than going for surgery. There is a fair amount of evidence that surgery, while providing immediate relief, doesn't solve back/spine problems in the long run. In fact, we've seen that at about 2 years after onset of the back/spine problem, conservative treatment is about the same as surgery in terms of results (mobility, pain - including radiating pain, ability to work, quality of life, etc). The good news is that after treatment with physio, Alexander, etc (ie conservative treatment) most people are almost the same as they were prior to the initial issue. Sorry for not answering your question, but this is an interesting topic for me!
posted by lulu68 at 6:55 PM on July 28, 2011

I've had experience with both. Alexander Technique was enormously helpful. Accupuncture was not.
posted by Jode at 7:09 PM on July 28, 2011

I did Feldenkrais, which is similar to Alexander, during my rehab after a discectomy (L5-S1). It was amazingly helpful. I can't recommend it enough. That and aquatic therapy were the two things that helped the most. I have done acupuncture, too, not for back pain but for other health issues--totally useless.
posted by HotToddy at 9:17 PM on July 28, 2011

Alexander Technique WFM.
posted by devnull at 10:54 PM on July 28, 2011

I've tried acupuncture, but not for my back. Can't say it worked in any case.

Alexander Technique, yes. And yes, it helps. (I'm a violinist.) But it also depends who your teacher is, because mine is excellent, but other teachers might not be as helpful. Because it could come across as kind of woo-woo (even though it's really not), but it depends on the teacher. In any case I would recommend you (or your husband) at least give it a try.

I guess people like Fendenkrais as well, which I don't know about, but it's supposed to be similar. I asked my guy about it, and he was saying, yeah, Alexander taught Feldenkrais pretty much everything he knows. Not really, but their paths did apparently cross at one point.
posted by Busoni at 4:17 AM on July 29, 2011

Alexander technique yes. Acupuncture no.
posted by ook at 6:04 AM on July 29, 2011

I've had great experiences with acupuncture for acute back pain.

I think of acupuncture as more of an interventionary procedure, whereas Alexander technique is more of a way of practice. I'd do both, if possible.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 8:48 AM on July 29, 2011

One semester of a movement class was required for my theater major and I chose Alexander Technique. It's a lifelong skill and it will help with other things movement-wise as well not just the back. Can't speak to acupuncture. I stopped having chronic neck tension headaches after that semester and had just gone in their to fulfill a class requirement. Definitely get recommends on a teacher though, mine was very smart and knew how to communicate with different groups of people.
posted by edbles at 6:33 PM on July 29, 2011

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