If you have back pain then you know how miserable it can make even the simplest tasks like putting on your shoes or getting in the car.  We understand and we know how to help!

We have treated over 5,000 people at Manayunk Roxborough Community Acupuncture and about and about 60% of them have come to us for help with their back pain. So, we know a thing or two about how to treat back pain! Just check out our video testimonials and more testimonials at the bottom of the page:

Many people are surprised that we often treat back pain without putting needles in the back.  They are also shocked to find out that the super thin needles don’t contain any medicine… we aren’t “injecting” anything into your body to help you feel better.  The results are usually immediate.  Sometimes pain that had been present for many years is suddenly gone.  Often it is progressive…meaning that after several treatments, the pain has gotten better each time and gradually goes away, or at least loses it’s grip over your life.

Acupuncture works by loosening tight muscles, increasing blood flow, lowering inflammation and redirecting the subtle energy channels in your body so that blockages are cleared and pain is relieved. Of course, acupuncture can treat much more than just pain. We regularly treat all kinds of conditions from PMS, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, asthma, acid reflux, infertility, and more.

At Roxborough Community Acupuncture, we treat back pain in several ways:

  • Balance Method – Distal Point Therapy
  • Back acupuncture and muscle points called Ah Shi points (the origins of Trigger Point therapy adopted by Physical Therapists)
  • Gua Sha (Chiropractors adopted this and call it the Graston Technique)
  • Cupping
  • Tui Na massage


IMG_9237The Balance Method

The Balance Method uses “distal points”, points AWAY from the area of pain or the condition being treated, and usually involves points in the arms and legs, hands and feet.  These points are called the “command points’ in Chinese Medicine and they are among the most powerful points on the body.  They are excellent for treating many conditions, and when applied in a systematic format like the Balance Method, they are exceptionally powerful for treating pain.  Many times the patient can feel immediate relief.  Lasting relief comes with time and repeated treatments.  The Balance Method of acupuncture is taught by master Dr. Richard Teh Fu Tan and is a synthesis of 5 different systems of Chinese acupuncture based on the classical acupuncture texts.


Back acupuncture and muscle/Ah Shi points

Back acupuncture and muscle points called Ah Shi points are used according to the principles of Five Element acupuncture which uses many of the points on the Bladder Meridian which goes from the inside of the corner of the eye, over the head, down the back and thighs, and along the outer aspect of the calves to the pinky toe.

Sometimes back pain is coming from a disorder or deficiency of one of the main organs, or from a global condition called “Aggressive Energy” which is treated using the back points associated with the organs of the Heart, Lungs, Pericardium, Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys.


Gua Sha and Cupping (see our video below)

Gua Sha is a treatment that is used primarily for early cold symptoms or tightness in large muscle groups. This technique involves using a dull-edged device to gently scrape the skin, usually the upper back and neck. It is not painful. There is no bleeding or scabbing. You may experience some slight bruising that will last 1 to 3 days.  Following treatment you will be advised to keep the area covered and avoid windy conditions for a day or two.

Cupping is a technique that is most often used for musculoskeletal pain, such as back pain. In this technique, small glass or plastic cups will be placed on the affected area and suction will be created, drawing some of your tissue inside the cup. Your clinic intern practitioner may apply a thin layer of oil to your skin and may move the cups around the affected area. There is no bleeding. You may feel a sensation similar to that of being massaged. You may experience round bruises or bruising over the affected area that may last 3 to 5 days. 


Tui Na – Chinese massage (see the video below)

Tui na or tuinaTuina (pronounced “twee nah”) is a form of Oriental bodywork that has been used in China for centuries. A combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation, tuina works by applying pressure to acupoints, meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow of qi. Removing these blockages restores the balance of qi in the body, leading to improved health and vitality.

Tui na is subdivided into specialized treatment for infants, adults, orthopedics, traumatology, cosmetology, rehabilitation, sports medicine, etc. In modern China, many hospitals include tui na as a standard aspect of treatment. In the West, tui na is taught as a part of the curriculum at some acupuncture schools.

At RCA, we often combine these various techniques and treatments to give the best possible outcome for the patient.  Cupping, Gua Sha, and Tui Na treatments are charged at a rate of $15 (going up to $25 in January) on top of the regular treatment fee, and only done when necessary.  Having said that, it’s also important to note that people love receiving Gua Sha and Tui Na, it’s like a very powerful, quick massage and many people ask for it at each treatment.  We’re happy to oblige!

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions below, and feel free to call if you have further questions. 



Question: How Many Treatments Will I Need?

Answer: Usually, a series of treatments are necessary to resolve a condition and each case and condition is treated individually. A consultation is required to determine requirements. Some people receive relief with only a few treatments while others require more ongoing care, especially in cases where there is a long term history of back pain or significant structural issues like spinal stenosis or a history of back surgery.

Question: How long do treatments take?

Answer: Treatments average between 45 to 90 minutes in length and some people stay much longer. You are welcome to stay as long as you feel you need.

Question: Does Acupuncture Treatment Hurt?

Answer: Most patients have stated that there is little or no pain as very fine, sterile, disposable needles are used. Treatments are available without the use of needles through Asian Bodywork Therapy.



Back Pain


After complaining to a co-worker about poor sleeping habits and lower back pain, he recommended Roxborough Community Acupuncture.  Just the word “acupuncture” scared me and caused hesitation since I did not believe in the widely practiced therapy.  I finally made an appointment and met with Melissa, my Acupuncturist, and she immediately put me at ease by explaining everything involved.  After the first couple of treatments, I noticed a positive change in my sleeping habits.  I later visited Melissa for back problems and left the office feeling like a new man.  I’ve discovered an alternative solution to modern medical problems!  I am extremely grateful to Melissa and Roxborough Community Acupuncture for treating my ailments.  ~Allen Dutton – 11/22/2013


Hi David.  I don’t know what you did differently yesterday, but the tingling in my leg was a whole lot better last night!  Just wanted to tell you!  Thanks!  ~Amy


Whatever you did yesterday worked! No pain today. Am driving to the Velodrome tomorrow and riding 40 miles (this is why I am a physical therapist’s worst nightmare) so will be a true test, but today a nice respite from pain. THANK YOU!  ~Joan

AND ANOTHER EMAIL THE NEXT DAY:   36 glorious and pain free miles through gorgeous farm land following a relatively pain free ride up and minimal pain back. The pain on the way back is a huge improvement over not being able to drive to work without pain. A little stretching, some heat and I think it will be good. Huge progress.  ~Joan


After winning the World Championships on the Track in 2011, my body was beat from all of the training. I was struggling to get back on the bike without feeling back pain and a nagging injury here and there. I contacted Dave Schiman for an acupuncture consultation. His techniques got me balanced in just a few sessions. I highly recommend athletes especially, to schedule a consult with Dave and his team.

~Joe Wentzell
2011  World Championship – UCI Track Cycling Masters
Owner of Breakaway Bikes


I have had amazing relief since last Monday’s treatment (a little sore in a.m. but it leaves me as quick as it came.  On the questionnaire, I indicated that I would like not to be reminded that I have a back problem for at least one day. Well, tomorrow will be day 3.  I have an appointment on Friday and I know you will not be there.  I have an appointment on Monday and didn’t want to wait until then to tell you.
Enjoy your trip.  I can’t thank you enough.  ~Nancy Joseph


My head, neck & back have ALL been excellent.  You really did fix them all.  I have not even had to go back to physical therapy for my back.  I will definitely be back to see you.  ~Macie Schlernitzauer


Hi Dave, I just wanted you to know that my back feels really good this morning—none of the tightness I usually feel.  My back is back to normal—not even a whisper of the trouble I had earlier.   Thank you so much for your care, time, expertise and  thoughtfulness.  ~Kim


Dave, just a note to let you know.  Tracy feels good this morning, you miracle worker. She is working out at 9:00 this morning and said she will call you to let you know how the workout was on her back.
Thanks Dave for the short notice on the appointment.  ~Mark Gallagher


“…my is back not hurting for the first time in my life”  ~ Amy Kokoles


“…My back is a million times better than a year ago when I first came in.”  ~ Jean Clinton


You helped my mom, Karen.  She came twice and hasn’t had the back pain since.  She say’s you’re a miracle worker!  ~ John Shimkus


My back pain is much better, coming and going now, instead of always being there.  ~ Andrew Capizzi


Dear Dr. David Miracle Worker; Thanks to you, I had my first night without significant pain! I am also walking much better. My lower back hurts more than usual, but I believe that’s my body telling me the origination of the real pain. (We can work on that later.) The severe leg & hip pain masked the back pain, at least that’s what I believe? I am not pain free, but so much better it’s unbelievable!  Thank you so much… I am so grateful.  ~Ann


My “uncurable” eye condition has gone away after coming for three months, and that’s not why I came originally.  I originally came for back pain and that’s gone.  And my palpitations are much less frequent now.  ~Juergen