Backache is one of the commonest complaints seen by a Chinese medicine doctor and treatment can be very effective. Medical researches also show the evidence of acupuncture’s benefits. For example, Dr Hugh MacPherson, from the University of York, along with colleagues at Sheffield University, reached their conclusions by studying 241 adults with low back pain that the patients who received acupuncture in the study reported lower pain levels and used fewer pain killers than those who received usual NHS care.
Common causes of back pain (Western Medicine view)
The symptoms of back pain often occur suddenly and can be triggered by a particular movement, but the causes may have been building for some time. Inactivity and the wrong sort of movement are usually at the root of back pain. Inactivity makes the muscles go slack so they are unable to support the back properly. This leaves the back more vulnerable to damage when certain movements put too much strain on one area.
Often, the problem is caused by a strain or tear to the muscles, tendons or ligaments around the spine. In turn, this can produce painful muscle tension and spasm. It’s often difficult for doctors to find the exact cause of back pain in the lumbar area. In many cases, the pain starts a day or two after an injury occurs, or the cause has been building up gradually over many years, which makes diagnosis even more difficult.
Common causes of back pain (Chinese Medicine view)
One reason why acupuncture is so beneficial for this complaint is that Chinese medicine recognizes that there are many types of back pain, each with a specific diagnosis. The three main reasons for backache are
DEFICIENT KINDEY QI
If you have a back problem caused by deficient Kidney Qi then you are likely to have a chronic, dull type of backache. The Kidneys are situated in your lower back. If they are functioning sluggishly, a dull ache is created in this area. The ache will often disappear after rest but reappear after further strenuous activity.
Emotional problems and over-activity are two important reasons for backache arising from Kidney deficiency. Over-activity carried out under stress causes the muscles to tighten up and any strenuous activity weakens the Kidneys.
have this kind of backache, your acupuncturist will probably use points that
strengthen your Kidneys. For example, a number of points on your lower back can
strengthen your Kidney Organs directly.
QI AND BLOOD ‘STAGNATION’ IN THE BACK
This kind of back problem is severe and painful, but fortunately short-lived. If it is not treated, however, it can be the precursor of more long- term, chronic back problems. Fortunately, it responds exceptionally well to acupuncture.
The initial cause of this condition is often physical overstrain. People develop tense muscles in the lower back as they try to cope with their problems or strain themselves physically.
acupuncturist will ask where it hurts, and (if the anatomy permits) insert a
needle at that point. These points are known as ashi points, meaning
“that’s the spot” points. Acupuncture points may also be
selected at different spots along relevant channels that supply the effected
WIND, COLD AND/OR DAMP IN THE BACK
This can cause acute or chronic back pain and is due to the pathogens entering the back directly. For example, when you are gardening you may build up a sweat and remove some of your clothes. As you cool down afterwards, the Wind, Cold and Damp can enter the back through the open pores. Cold causes the tissues to contract, creating pain, and the Wind and Damp also contribute. Similar conditions affect people working on building sites, sunning themselves on a hot day that turns cool, or after exercising and working up a sweat.
the obstructing pathogen, your practitioner can use points in the area, or use
cupping to draw the blood to the surface and draw out the pathogen.
A sports injury or an accident is a common cause of back problems and this can also be treated very effectively by acupuncture.