Lower Back Pain

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of medicine that has been practiced for several thousand years in the Orient and has gathered more acclaim in the last decade in North America. TCM encompasses the modalities of acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxabustion, Tui Na (Chinese massage) often includes nutritional therapy and breathing therapy or Qi Gong (pronounced "Che Gong"). Many of these TCM modalities are successfully used in the treatment of back pain.

  1. Acupuncture: The use of thin, pre-sterilized, disposable needles to re-establish the proper flow of Qi and blood through the channel(s) of the back. This flow increases circulation allowing for oxygen, blood and lymph to support the bodies healing process. If the channels have been blocked for a long period of time, or if there is pronounced deficiency of Qi and blood, it is necessary to have acupuncture for a longer period of time to assist the body in regaining its normal function. In TCM "where there is pain, there is stagnation". Research has shown acupuncture to cause the release of neuro-chemicals such as: endorphins, serotonin and corticosteroids all of which contribute to the reduction of back pain and inflammation.
  2. Moxabustion: Concentrated herbs that are sprayed or burned above the skin to open and warm the channels.
  3. Herbal Medicine: The use of herbs from the Chinese herbal pharmacopoeia also dates back several thousand years.
  4. Tui Na (Chinese Massage): A form of massage and often use for back pain on the Bladder meridian (located along the lateral spine) using techniques specific to Tui Na (Chinese Massage).
  5. Proper Diet: Our bodies need good clean nutrients. This means a balance of quality protein, good/essential fats, and carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water. Contemplate the fact that our body can only be as healthy as the fuel we give it.
  6. Qi Gong Breathing and our backs: Qi Gong is the art of therapeutic breathing, Breath is Qi, Qi is life. The two substances that fill our "Qi Reserve" up are air and nutrients (breathing and healthy foods). To take in a full breath of air into our abdomen is health promoting, yet poor breathing habits have left most of us breathing on the shallow side. Be aware of inhaling fresh air/Qi in through your nostrils all the way down into your abdomen and exhaling through your mouth. As well, there are specific breathing exercises to open the spine which in turn, supports the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. Deep breathing has far reaching affects in our body by balancing our nervous system, increasing oxygen delivery and keeping the Qi moving. Do not underestimate the value of this simple, yet powerful practice; we have to breathe anyway, why not do it right?
  7. Proper Exercise: Exercise promotes the normal flow of Qi and blood. Our bodies were designed to move. I don't believe it's a coincidence that back pain is on the rise in proportion to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Regular aerobic activity, regular stretching, keeping the abdominal muscles strong and proper body mechanics when bending and lifting are some of the necessities in back maintenance.
  8. Stress Management and our backs: Well, this could be an article in and of itself (see article on our website under stress). It has been proven that prolonged stress created disharmony on many levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually and may be related to tense and painful tendons/ muscles on the neck, shoulders and back. Explore avenues to keep stress at a minimum in your life. Learning to meditate is another recommended way of managing stress as well as pain.
  9. Proper Rest: Our physiology needs regular sleep and rest balanced with the activity we perform. Rest is Yin, activity is Yang, and attention to both is required to maintain balance. When we push ourselves too hard for too long and ignore the need for rest our Yang consumes our Yin and imbalance ensues. A healthy body can recover from a temporary period of hard work or emotional strain: the imbalance only begins when it goes beyond temporary.

What to Expect in an Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture is strictly regulated in B.C. through the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (C.T.C.M.A.) licensing boards. The thin needles are inserted according to your individual diagnosis and are left in for approximately 20-40 minutes. During this time ,most people experience a deep sense of relaxation, in part because of the endorphins that are released during acupuncture. Depending on whether your pain is acute or chronic guides the number of treatments you may need. Your pain may be resolved in a few treatments or it may take several courses, in some cases acupuncture serves primarily as pain management. In any case, your whole body benefits from the affects of acupuncture.