TCM & Acupuncture for Back Pain

acupuncture back pain

Lower back pain

A significant proportion of people suffering with acute or chronic lower back pain will have a musculoskeletal cause. Acupuncture is the treatment of choice for this type of back pain. If there is weakness and vulnerability in the tissues and structures of your lower back, herbal medicine can intensify the benefits of the acupuncture treatment and speed up your recovery.

In TCM there are two main categories of back pain: “Excess” and “Deficiency”. Excess patterns are due to conditions such as “Blood Stasis”, “Cold-Dampness”, or “Qi Constraint”. Deficiency patterns include weakened “Kidneys” and “Spleen”. These two situations of excess and deficiency often coexist. 

Blood Stasis is the most common type of acute lower back pain and is often caused by mechanical trauma. The pain itself will be piercing and sharp and feel worse for pressure. Your range of movement will often be restricted. 

Cold-Dampness type back pain is usually linked to being in a cold and damp environment for too long. If you have this type of back pain, your pain will feel like heaviness and your back will be cold to the touch. Your pain will be worse on wet or cold days and improve with heat. Rest or lying down won’t help reduce your pain. 

Qi Constraint back pain is usually triggered by stress. Other symptoms such as irritability, headaches, or digestive symptoms may also occur alongside your back pain. 

Kidney Deficiency 

In TCM the “Kidneys” govern the lower back and chronic backache is often diagnosed as “Kidney deficiency”. Excessive physical work, overuse of your back muscles, and prolonged exposure to cold can all weaken kidney energy. The kidneys are also depleted by pregnancy.

If Kidney deficiency is causing your back pain, you’ll probably be suffering chronic dull back pain with a feeling of weakness. Your symptoms will improve with massage and rest. Your pain frequently gets worse at the end of the day and when you are tired. You might also have a feeling of weakness and soreness in your legs and knees. Depending on whether it’s “Kidney Yang” or “Kidney Yin” deficiency, your other symptoms will vary. Kidney Yang deficiency includes feeling cold in the lower back and frequent urination; your tongue will probably be pale. If you have Kidney Yin deficiency, you might also have other symptoms such as tinnitus and dizziness, possibly night sweats too. Your tongue may look red with a dry coating. 

Spleen Qi deficiency backache typically involves weak muscle tone. Your pain may feel like chronic aching and heaviness, with your back muscles feeling weak. You could also suffer with other symptoms such as tiredness and digestive weakness.

Acupuncture treatment is very effective for both acute and chronic back pain. With acute pain, you’ll often be feeling as if your back has locked up and you can’t bend very easily; in this case we’ll select acupuncture points in parts of your body away from the location of your pain. Depending on the problem, we might use points on your hand or back of your knee. Although the acupuncture needles will only need to be in place for a few minutes, treatment usually immediately improves your range of movement. 

When your back pain is chronic, treatment aims to invigorate circulation of Qi and Blood, get rid of any Cold-Dampness and strengthen any underlying deficiency. We often use heat as part your treatment.

Herbal medicine treatment

The herbal medicine prescriptions will be different for each of the various types of back pain. Herbal treatment is used to invigorate blood if your diagnosis is “Blood Stasis” or

to help move and regulate Qi if your muscle tension is due to stress. With Cold-Dampness, prescriptions include warming herbs. 

Other herbs known to strengthen the kidneys are usually added to your prescription. 

At the Jade Centre we see many patients each year to help them to manage their health over the Winter months. Contact us now and book an appointment to get the support you need,

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