Low Back Pain

trauma-4-lower-back-pain-strain-stick-2.pngChinese Medicine and Lower Back Pain

Qi Stagnation Causing Lower Back Pain
Qi is pronounced "Chee" and is sometimes spelled Chi; Qi is basically the energy that circulates throughout your body. Qi is Yang in nature and is responsible for animation of the human form. Qi travels through the 12+ meridians (channels) very much like blood through vessels. Chinese medicine works to insure that Qi is able to move freely, that it is moving in the correct direction, and that there is an abundant
availability of Qi. If Qi does not move freely through the channels, pain can develop. 

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Blood Stagnation Causing Lower Back Paingreat-mender.jpg
There are two main causes of Blood Stagnation; one is that there was some local trauma. This could be caused by heavy lifting, a sport's injury, or perhaps even an automobile accident. Any specific trauma to the back will give rise to what we call Blood Stagnation. The treatment principle is the same as with Qi Stagnation. Blood Stasis is the local inflammation, bruising, and purple thick blood that is found at the site of the trauma. The other cause of Blood Stagnation is a long history of Qi Stagnation. The Qi is said to move the Blood. Should the Qi remain Stagnant for long enough, then the local body fluids that are supposed to be flowing begin to stagnate as well. 

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Related Article: Read how Chinese Herbs for Trauma and Sports Injuries work now!

Liver Qi Stagnation Causing Lower Back Pain

There may also be an emotional component in this particular pathology; for instance, a long history of frustration, resentment or some other really bitter emotional pathology can lead to Liver Qi Stagnation. As it turns out, the Liver governs over the movement of Qi throughout the body. We all get frustrated once in a while and that can give rise to the Qi Stagnation type of back pain, but if it goes on for long enough muscles becomes tighter and more reactive. In this case, the body begins to manifest that stagnation in the form of lumps, tumors, sharp pains or other blood circulation problems

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Kidney Deficiency Causing Lower Back Pain
With Kidney Deficient pathology, lower back pain is not necessarily related to nerve impingement syndrome but can be due to weakness of the lower back. Yin deficiency tends to include lower backache that is a long-term problem with no history of trauma; it just started hurting one day and never went away. With this said, it is important to understand that longstanding Kidney Deficiency can produce weaknesses that make one susceptible to injury and trauma. Other symptoms of Yin deficiency include hot flashes, night sweats, tinnitus, irritability, restlessness and the feeling that your hands and feet are too hot. Herbal tonics are consistent with TCM strategies of re-enforcing the Kidney Energetic Organ System to treat the root cause of the pain. 

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kidney-yang-plaster-stick-2.pngA deficiency of Kidney Yang could also give rise to lower back pain. Other symptoms of Kidney Yang deficiency would be early morning diarrhea, cold hands and feet, lack of energy, pale face, hearing loss, feeling cold all the time, frequent urination, low libido.

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Liver-Kidney Imbalances Causing Lower Back Pain with PMS
Lower back pain is sometimes found in women with painful periods and PMS. Dull achy pain is typically experienced just before the onset of menstruation. Additionally, women may notice a bout of very loose stools at the onset or just before menstruation begins.  

Natural Lower Back Pain Strategies
Our typical image of pain killers and analgesics are drugs that block nerve conduction signals to the brain; natural pain treatments work much differently and optimally initiate true healing and long term relief from pain. Chinese medicine recognizes these common causes of lower back pain:

  1. Trauma-Trauma due to a sports injury, car accident, improper lifting, or strains are the most common cause of lower back pain and results in Blood Stagnation, Qi Stagnation, and inflammation. This type of lower back pain is acute, and is typically sharp and severe in nature, especially in the early stages.Related Article: Chinese Herbs for Trauma and Sports Injuries
  2. Deficiency-Overworking, poor lifestyle habits and aging lead to ‘Kidney Deficiencies’ in Chinese medicine. This condition is typically chronic in nature with dull, achy pain and progresses gradually. Other Kidney Deficient symptoms such as knee pain, tinnitus, coldness, and low energy could also present with this type of lower back pain. This is probably the most important aspect of attaining true and lasting relief from lower back pain. Chinese Kidney Tonic Herbs can be taken over a number of months to restore vitality and strength naturally. The concept of the Organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine is radically different from that of contemporary Western medicine. Understanding this difference is very important because the physiology and pathology of the Organs is fundamental to the understanding and treatment of disease. 
  3. External Invasions-In Chinese medicine, environmental factors can have a dramatic effect on our health, especially if we are run down. Many people recognize that their pain syndromes are exacerbated with cold or damp weather. This type of lower back pain is often dull, achy and heavy in nature, improving with heat. 

Often, those with lower back pain have a combination of all three causes; someone with a weak back from deficiency would be more susceptible to injury. Similarly, if your back were injured and weak, you would be more susceptible to an external invasion of Cold and Damp.

Healing Strategies for Lower Back Pain in Chinese Medicine

Stimulating the Free Flow of Blood and Qi:
Blood in Chinese medicine is similar to the western medical concept, as it circulates nutrients and healing agents in the body. Where Qi goes, Blood follows. If a person’s Blood and Qi are flowing freely, he/she will be pain free; good blood circulation to the lower back will speed healing. Natural herbs such as Red Sage, acupuncture, massage, and essential oils such as cinnamon and rosemary all improve Blood and Qi circulation. 

Reduce Inflammation and Clear Heat Inflammation is a natural part of the healing process; however, excessive swelling can cause additional tissue damage in cases of trauma and strain. Cold therapy is often applied immediately after an injury to stop the inflammation, as cold is quite restricting. This restricting quality of cold therapies will cause increased Blood and Qi stagnation if it is used after the initial 24 hours of an injury. Although cold therapies applied to the lower back, even in deficient conditions, will provide temporary pain relief, it essentially aggravates the condition and delays lower back pain relief.

Acupuncture for Lower Back Pain
Backaches are a common pathology among people everywhere. Tthanks to the westward expansion of Traditional Chinese medicine, people are coming to appreciate the age old medical wisdom of the Orient. This is especially true with regard to the alleviation of back pain.

One of the most common reasons that people seek out an acupuncturist is because of lower back pain. Back pain is commonly considered a nerve impingement syndrome. The way it works is that there's some kind of structural problem that prevents the nerves from exiting the spinal cord through the spinal vertebrae and out into the body. When there is something pinching one of these nerves as it exits the spine it causes pain. The common term for this problem is a ‘pinched nerve’.

Qi flows through a network of channels or meridians. This sounds much like our neurological system and some try to relate Qi stagnation as a pinched nerve syndrome; however, this is not entirely accurate because Chinese medicine is able to address back pain without mechanical adjustments to the body, manipulation of the spine, surgery to remove a herniated disc, or any other invasive procedure. Never the less, pain is relieved through Chinese medicine utilizing herbs that break up Qi Stagnation. This begs the question: Is the nerve impingement theory the correct explanation for back pain?

While debating the cause is interesting for theorists, it does little for the sufferer. Left untreated, Qi Stagnation can lead to Blood Stagnation, and what was a dull ache that radiates outward from the central location can become a very sharp fixed pain. Qi and Blood are actually inseparable; this means that prolonged Qi Stagnation will inevitably result in Blood Stagnation since Qi moves the Blood. 

One way in which doctors determine if there is a nerve impingement is by having the patient lean to the right, and then to the left in order to see if that movement has any effect on the pain. If it does, then a nerve is being pinched. If that pinching can be relieved, then, presumably, the pain will go away along with it. It is important to note that this is just one way of testing for a nerve impingement syndrome. This test isn't always an end-all diagnostic tool.

While removing the obstruction to the nerve should remove the nerve pain, it doesn't always work. Surgery, which is expensive at best and dangerous at worst, may be considered. Chinese Medicine sees these pains as having several possible etiologies with many possible strategies that are low risk.