Back pain is a very common malady that is treated successfully with Chinese Medicine. In fact, the California Physical Therapist’s Association has recognized Acupuncture as one of the most effective treatments for back pain.
With Chinese Medicine, we recognize there are many different types of back pain. This is diagnosed by the patient’s color, consistency and texture of the tongue as well as by the twelve pulses which represent the twelve energy meridians of the body.
Back pain that is characterized by a sensation of heaviness and numbness in the lumbar region with aggravation when the weather is humid or rainy, is due to what we call “wind and dampness” and a Kidney meridian deficiency. It is treated by herbs and acupuncture which dispel dampness and strengthens the kidney.
The more severe kind of back pain produces chills in the affected area, a craving for hot drinks and hot compresses, is due to “coldness and dampness” and a Kidney “Yang” deficiency. It is treated by herbal formulas which include Hoelen and Atractylodes and acupuncture points, which warm and strengthen the Kidney meridian.
Back pain characterized by a heaviness and aching in the lumbar region with fever, perspiration, thirst and dark urine is diagnosed as a deficiency in the Kidney “Yin” or deficiency of Fire. It is treated with herbs such as Rheumannia, and acupuncture points which eliminate deficiency fire in the kidney.
Back pain which feels like a sharp knife-like pain in the lower back, with aggravation in the night and with movement, is due to “Blood Stasis”. It is treated with herbs and acupuncture points which move and circulate the blood. Different formulas and prescriptions are used depending on the individual’s constitution but Tang Kuei and Cnidium are almost always included.
Back pain that radiates from pain in the back, chest and ribs upon coughing and sneezing and the inability to turn the torso right or lift is due to Liver “Chi” congestion and sprain. It is treated with herbs and acupuncture points which circulate the liver and blood, which includes herbs such as Peony to relieve muscular tension.
Thus, traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes many types of back pain. The acute problem of pain is relieved, and the deeper root cause of the problem is treated by careful diagnosis of the patient’s pulses. Many patients are symptom free after their treatment program is completed.