Low Back Pain?
Almost all of us have experienced some sort of low back pain at one point in our life. Although most lower back pain issues come and go in a matter of days, acute and/or chronic back pain not only poses serious health issues, but also threatens our quality of life.
Our spine is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. One of the many jobs of the spine is to support our upper body weight. Between each of our vertebrae is a spongy piece of cartilage called a disc. This disc acts as a shock absorber and prevents our bony vertebrae from grinding against one another.
Low back pain occurs under many circumstances. For example, if a disc becomes overgrown it may press the nerves; if a disc and vertebrae become degenerated they lose flexibility; a sport injury and heavy lifting may twist muscles, ligaments, vertebrae or nerves thus causing local inflammation.
With age discs gradually wear away and shrink, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Discs can also tear or become injured. A herniated disc in the lower back can put pressure on the nerve that extends down the spinal column. This commonly causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. This condition is called sciatica.
Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) has its own interpretation of low back pain and what causes it. It is always a challenge to interpret TCM’s understanding and terminology into western medical terms there are herbal formulas and remedies to effectively treat many low back pain issues.
TCM and Chinese Herbal Formulas for Low Back Pain
The following is by no means a comprehensive explanation of TCM diagnosis for low back pain. It is intended to provide a brief overview of some common TCM terminology and how it applies to back pain and the herbs that are used for treatment of this pain.
Rheumatic Back Pain
This condition often occurs in individuals who live in moist, damp, windy, and cold environments. From a TCM point of view this ‘dampness’ and ‘coldness’ affects the back and causes Qi and blood stagnation, a term used often in Chinese medicine. In modern medical terms this is referred to as inflammation and arthritis. Typically, the back pain occurs chronically and worsens in cold and damp weather. However, warm and dry weather can alleviate some or all pain. The legs may also be affected. Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed to expel ‘wind’ and remove ‘dampness’, removing obstruction in Qi and blood circulation to relieve back pain. In other words various herbal formulas are used to reduce inflammation.
Kidney Deficient Back Pain
In TCM the kidney is fundamental to all organs and is the source for Yin and Yang. When kidney function is compromised back pain can manifest. Kidney function declines with age, overwork, and stress. A back condition due to kidney insufficiency typically manifests in feelings of weakness and soreness in the lower back and knees. The pain is mild. However, it may be persistent. Depending on whether Yin or Yang is insufficient, other symptoms may be present. For example, Yang deficiency may result in cold limbs and/or pale face whereas Yin deficiency may result in sweats, hot flashes, dizziness, or persistent thirst.
Blood Stasis Back Pain
This condition often occurs in individuals with an injury caused by heavy lifting, a sports injury or even a car accident. The injury has led to ‘blood stagnation’ or inflammation in local spots of the back. Such back pain may be acute, stabbing, and hard to tolerate. The pain position is fixed and resistant to pressure. Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed for blood stasis back pain to promotes blood and Qi circulation, removes blood stasis in the meridians, and thus alleviates back pain.
Chinese Herbal Formula Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan
One herbal formula that is prescribed for low back pain is Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan. If you are experiencing low back pain and have had little to no results from pharmaceuticals we encourage you to try an alternative. Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan may or may not be the best Chinese herbal formula for your unique condition.
We encourage you to take advantage of our free online consultation. Our licensed herbalist and acupuncturist will prescribe one of our common herbal formulas which is appropriate for your individual constitution and condition.
If you have any questions bout TCM or an herbal formula in our store please let us know. Our licensed practitioner is available to answer any of your questions.