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Jennifer Dubowsky: How Acupuncture Can Relieve Back Pain

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Back pain is one of the most prevalent reasons people seek health care. Millions of working days and countless hours of activity and fun are lost each year due to back pain.

Common Causes of Back Pain Treated with Acupuncture. One of the top causes of back pain are sprains (overstretching one or more of the ligaments in the back) and strains (a rip or tear in the muscle caused by sudden force). This can happen from an injury, poor posture, or improper lifting. Another source of back pain comes from a herniated disc which is a disc that bulges out from its place between two vertebrae. Sciatica is another common form of back pain. Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that extends down into the buttocks and leg which comes from an irritation of a larger nerve in the lumbar spine called the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can accompany sprains, strains, herniated discs as well as back pain emanating from other sources.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Patterns of Back Pain Traditional Chinese Medicine's (TCM) vocabulary is very different from Western medicine. TCM differentiates patterns of back pain. Common TCM patterns include: Deficiency type pain Qi and Blood stagnation Pain due to Cold Damp Obstruction Pain that results from deficiency is usually dull, chronic, and improves with rest. It is more common in middle aged and elderly people. Pain from stagnation is more severe and stabbing in nature. There is stiffness and tightness in the muscles and it worsens with rest. Often this type is seen in occurrences of acute sprains and strains. It can reoccur chronically, thereby indicating an underlying deficiency. Pain from cold damp obstruction is worse in the morning, exacerbated by cold and damp weather. It improves with heat and may be accompanied by numbness, swelling and a sense of heaviness.

Traditional Chinese Medicine as Treatment for Back Pain TCM works to restore harmony and energetic balance to the body which stimulates natural healing and promotes health. Acupuncture is one of the primary modalities used and treatment is individual to each patient.

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