There are a number of things that Chinese Medicine can do for back pain, but it needs to be diagnosed by a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. As you may well know, when you go and see a Western doctor, they usually send you to do an x-ray or an MRI to determine the degree of the problem. Most likely after the diagnosis they will prescribe pain killers, physiotherapy, or in more severe cases, surgery. In Chinese Medicine, it works a little differently, because the first thing we do is make a traditional Chinese diagnosis to find out the cause of the pain. Here are examples of pathologies that cause low back pain.
The first pathogenic factor is “invasion of cold and damp”- Classic case of obstruction of energy due to cold and damp. In other words, pain occurring after exposure to rain and cold. This is seen in a lot of arthritis patients, older or weak patients, and patients with chronic conditions. Naturally the low back pain would intensify during cold months (especially on cold and rainy days). Symptoms are stiff muscles, limitation of movement, coldness of the lower back, and radiating pain down the leg. Treatment of acupuncture, moxa, or herbal heat therapy would be advised to bring circulation and warmth to the lower back area.
The second pathogenic factor is “kidney Qi deficiency”; symptoms of this pathogenic factor are similar to immune deficiency. This kind of pain is different, because it makes patient feel week. The pain would get better after bed rest, as the kidney organs always recuperate faster with rest. With this type of condition it would be wise to treat the kidneys as well as the back problem.
The third factor that causes back pain is trauma. Trauma due to injury or sprain to the lower back can cause acute or severe pain that is aggravated by movement or pressure. For acute conditions, an acupuncture treatment with cupping or electroacupuncture is prescribed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
We also prescribe herbal medicine, depending of course on the correct diagnosis. Cold laser treatment is also part of my practice, which is used to reduce inflammation. I will talk more about cold laser in my next article.
By: Raphaela Sorkin