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Feb 27 2014

Lower Back Pain and Acupuncture

With more than 80% of all Americans having experienced lower back pain at one point in their lives (Mayo Clinic), back pain is a common reason for work absences and can greatly impact one’s lifestyle.  Although it can affect anyone, it is significantly more prevalent among adults between the ages of 35 to 55 and the actual treatment of lower back pain is geared towards the diagnosed or suspected specific cause.

Lumbar strains are a common cause for back pain.  With the intricate network of ligaments, tendons and/or muscles of the lower back, it is easy for one to strain these structures, resulting in fluctuating microscopic tears.  This type of injury can occur due to overuse, improper use or even trauma, with an onset after an event that induced mechanical stress on the lumbar region.   Classified between “acute” and “chronic”, soft-tissue injury present for days to weeks is commonly categorized as the former, while any strain lasting longer than three months is categorized as the latter (chronic).

Lumbar radiculopathy is nerve irritation that is secondary to damaged intervertebral discs.  The damage could be the result of degeneration or a traumatic injury, causing the disc to herniate and press on the spinal cord or the nerves exiting it.  The aforementioned rupture is the most common cause for “sciatica” pain that radiates from the posterior down the leg.

The practice of TCM among western societies has significantly increased within the last two decades.  The results of a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain provide further proof that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for back pain, maintaining relief for periods exceeding six months.  According to the theory of TCM, pain is the result of stagnation of the flow of the body’s energy and blood.  Acupuncture works to restore the aforementioned energy flow and relieve the pain.

According to TCM there are three types of pain:

  1. Deficient type pain.  Usually dull, chronic pain, which improves with rest, more prevalent in middle aged an elderly individuals.
  2. Energy and blood stagnation pain.  More severe, accompanied with stiffness and tightness in the muscles.  This type of pain is worsened with rest and can reoccur chronically.
  3. Pain from cold obstruction.  Exacerbated by the cold and most severe in the morning, this type of pain may often be accompanied by numbness and swelling, and can be improved with application of warmth.

Once and individual experiences back pain, its more likely that they will experience it again.  Below are some things one should consider in order to prevent it:

-Regular, low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, and stretching before vigorous exercise.

-Practice proper posture at all times.

-Refrain from shoes with higher heels and focus on support instead.

-Maintain a healthy body weight, as excess mass places more stress on the back

-Avoid lifting heavy objects.

 

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