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Acupuncture for Low Back Pain

May 9, 2014

In terms of injury and/or muscle soreness, back pain is the most widely reported complaint. Most people will experience back pain at some point in their life and so it is important to discuss this condition and learn how to resolve it and even prevent it since you may suffer from it in the future if you haven’t already.

One of the best treatments of most types of body pain bar none is the ancient Chinese healing art of acupuncture. Acupuncture is one component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Other TCM modalities such as moxibustion or cupping therapy have also demonstrated outstanding results for treating low back pain. Acupuncture is versatile enough to be utilized in combo with any type of natural or conventional therapy.

Your lower back broadly encompasses the part of your body below the rib cage including the buttocks. When pain emanates from the sciatic nerve, it can travel down to one leg or the other but oftentimes only one leg is affected.  According to TCM, lower back pain can be the result of a pathogenic infiltration, zero or little exercise, overwork, pregnancy and labor, too much sexual activity or excessive physical work.  When the underlying cause of your low back pain (LBP) has been identified, a diagnosis based on TCM principles is then attained.  It is important to note that you avail yourself of treatment to a qualified TCM practitioner even if you only want acupuncture treatment for your LBP.  An LBP diagnosis based on TCM usually involves chi deficiency of the Kidney system.  This deficiency is either due to the stagnation of blood and chi in the kidney meridian or a pathogen invasion such as accumulation of Damp-Cold in the affected area.

Chi deficiency in the Kidney often manifests in chronic low back pain as well Cold-Damp. This condition can develop from frequent infiltration of Cold-Damp in the body that eventually leads to the Kidney energy deficiency and thus to low-back pain. Other symptoms of LBP besides the pain can include knee pain, night sweats, relief from the pain but recurring during work or sexual activity, and a cold feeling in the lower back.

Damp-Cold invasion likewise can manifest in acute low-back pain cases. The pain generated by this infiltration is at its worse in the morning and acts up during cold or damp weather. The pain can be resolved by the application of heat. If you suffer from Cold and Dampness infiltration, one often predominates the other. You may sometimes experience symptoms of Dampness more than cold or vice versa.  If Cold infiltration is stronger, you can find relief by walking around or being active rather than resting; the heat from your movement will alleviate the pain. If you feel the effect of Dampness more than Cold, some swelling may develop as well as feel a heavy sensation in your back.

LBP caused by blood and chi stagnation is often associated with Kidney deficiency (in chronic cases) and the result of muscle strain (in acute cases).  Blood and chi stagnation comes with symptoms such as stabbing and sharp pain that becomes worse with excessive exertion or even with rest. The LBP caused by blood and chi stagnation is usually tender making it difficult for the sufferer to sit or stand.  This type of pain is accompanied by severe muscle rigidity and stiffness and is not affected by the application of heat or changes in the weather.

After your TCM practitioner has diagnosed you with LBP, he may suggest an acupuncture plan of treatment. The duration of the LBP treatment may be determined on how long you’ve been suffering from it. Acute LBP cases tend to have a quicker treatment time than chronic cases. The acupuncture points to be treated will be based on your diagnosis though more often than not certain points on your back are included. Western medicine diagnosis for LBP may not focus on its underlying cause but will instead concentrate on the symptoms. Whatever the case, you need to consult with your doctor to at least determine that you are not suffering from any structural problems in the back such as, for example, a prolapsed lumbar disc or osteoarthritis.