General Information About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain refers to pain and discomfort localized in the lumbosacral region, with or without radiating leg pain.
Acute or short-term low back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It starts abruptly as a result of a trauma, sudden jolt or wrong movement, from sport injury, car accident, work around the house, garden work, and so on. Sometimes an acute flare up can add to chronic pain. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to limited flexibility, limited range of motion, and even to an inability to stand up straight.
It is estimated that over 70% of adults in industrialized countries suffer from lower back pain during their lifetime; it’s become a global health problem.
In Western medicine it can be diagnosed as spondylosis, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal osteoarthritis, or prolapsed lumbar disc, if the focus is on the bones or muscular/ ligamentous lumbar strain. Conventional therapies include medications, physical therapy, cortisone or epidural injections, or spinal surgery. Side effects may accompany these therapies and there is no guarantee for pain relief.
Chinese Medicine and Lower Back Pain
Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, gua sha, cupping, moxibustion, electro- and manual therapies, can offer treatment options for low back pain. A recent systematic review of published research suggested that acupuncture, alone or even in addition to conventional therapies, provided relief in pain and function for chronic low back. The comparison was to no treatment or conventional treatment alone, respectfully. The interventions are usually for a short duration and the relief observed was accordingly for a short term. (Liu et al., Journal Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015:328196).
When an injury occurs a blockage is created which reduces or stops the blood supply, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the area. In addition, the body protects the injured part by reducing its use, which reduces further the blood supply. Chinese medicine treatments remove these blockages and restore circulation to the injured area, bringing in the necessary supplies for the body to heal itself. A saying in Chinese medicine is that “If there is free flow, there is no pain; If there is no free flow, there is pain”. In other words, if impaired circulation occurs in the channels that pass through the lower back, there will be pain there. Chinese medicine removes these blockages to eliminate the pain.
In Chinese medicine, the lower back is in close relation to the Kidney organ. The lower back area contains the Ming Men, The Gate of Vitality, located between the kidneys. According to TCM the Kidneys support all the body’s physiological processes by supplying Yang energy to all the organs. The Kidneys are said in Chinese medicine to control the bone development and function. Any injury to the lower back will impair the normal function of the Kidneys. The treatment reverses these impairments and by doing so eliminates lower back pain.