ACUPUNCTURE AND BACK PAIN: HOW TO HEAL YOURSELF IN 5 EASY STEPS
Back pain is one of the biggest orthopedic pain symptoms we hear about at our clinic. It can range from slight achy-ness to full on debilitating pain, making it difficult to walk or perform normal daily functions. There are many factors and considerations that an acupuncturist takes when determining how to treat back pain: the onset, location, duration–does it come and go? What’s the character of the pain? Is it sharp, achy, tight? Does anything make it feel better? Worse? These are some of the questions that help us sleuth out what is causing the pain. Once the cause is determined, the treatment begins with acupuncture and continues with other healing modalities, lifestyle recommendations, and herbal remedies that can enhance and speed up the healing process.
5 Easy Steps to Heal Back Pain…
Since you’re getting this newsletter, it means you’ve come into our clinic and had an acupuncture treatment so we don’t have to go over all the clinical trials and evidence-based research on the effective relief acupuncture brings to back pain, whew! [If you do want to read more, check out Pub Med online they have hundreds of articles from medical journals on the success of acupuncture in relieving back pain.] Acupuncture has so many wonderful Acupoints to help strengthen the back and alleviate pain in the lower, middle and upper back areas. Gallbladder 21 is a great release point for upper back pain and tension. Often when this point is needled the muscle will contract quickly and then release, unwinding the tense muscle fibers that tend to get wound up at the peak of the shoulders. Ling Gu + Da Bai are paired Acupoints that direct large amounts of Qi (energy) to specific Meridians (energy lines) throughout the back; depending on the coupled point, targeted areas can include upper, middle or lower back. Urinary Bladder 60 is an excellent point to strengthen the lumbar and relieve low back pain since the Meridian runs the whole length of the back, on either side of the spine and goes all the way down to the feet. These are only a few examples of the many points available to an acupuncturist to help relieve back pain. Which points are selected depend on many different variables, so leave it up to your acupuncturist to decide what’s best–let them put their Masters Degree to good use while you sit back and relax!
Massage is a hands-on therapy that has so many healing benefits and properties: enhanced circulation and increased range of motion are two biggies that help with back pain. There are also many different styles and modalities of massage. We offer an excellent therapeutic massage one Saturday afternoon a month with Mindy Green. She is a talented massage therapist with over 15 years of successful practice. The massage style we offer is a clothes-on, stretching, pressing and kneading massage that opens up Meridians, gets Qi flowing and relieves all kinds of aches and pains. You can book slots at 20 minute increments for $25. Massage is a great addition to acupuncture treatments and is highly recommended by all of us here at HCA. We also work with several other talented massage therapists, so If you want massage recommendations please ask us.
Heat Pads and Topical Creams
Pain is our body calling our attention to an area that is feeling overused, neglected or stagnated. By applying Heat or Topical Creams to the back, we signal the body to increase blood flow to that area. Blood has many healing contents like plasma (contains electrolytes and proteins), oxygen-rich red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells, which all aid in healing tissues. Ice, on the other hand, may temporarily reduce inflammation but is not recommended in Chinese medicine due to its tendency to stagnate the blood and Qi, eventually causing pain down the line. It’s OK if you’re experiencing extreme swelling immediately after an injury to use ice, but that’s the only time you want to use ice for healing. After a long day at work, rest with a nice heating pad for 20 minutes, take a relaxing Epsom Salt bath, or apply a blood invigorating cream to wherever feels sore or achy.
Cupping Therapy/Gua Sha
Many of us have now seen those red, purple marks on people’s backs at the gym, beach or on a celebrity or Olympic athlete. Cupping therapy has been used by many cultures for thousands of years, from Poland to Iran to China. All of our therapists at HCA have been taught Cupping and Gua Sha as part of their Masters curriculum. Cupping and Gua Sha, like Heat Therapy and Topical Creams, help bring blood to tissues in order to heal and detoxify them. The glass cups act as suctions to blood, lymph and many other healing cellular bodies, drawing these deep into the muscles and also superficially into micro-circulation reaching the tiniest of blood vessels such as capillaries, arterioles and venules. Gua Sha has a different technique for drawing blood to muscle and tissues, but creates a similar healing effect. After a Cupping or Gua Sha session, tense back muscles feel relieved, soothed and relaxed. Cupping is also an excellent therapy for respiratory ailments, digestion issues and frozen shoulder. Use this as an adjunct therapy to speed the healing process.
All of us at HCA recommend lifestyle enhancements to aid in healing. Oscar may have you lay on your back with your arms stretched overhead in order to relax and align your spine or recommend a Qi Gong posture to strengthen your back. Lina may recommend Calcium, Magnesium and different Mineral supplements to generate more healing in your bone matrix. Sita may recommend our herbal formula Back Support so that you’re getting that extra boost from herbs on a daily basis. Angela could give you a Moxa stick in order to bring more warmth and movement to a stiff, achy back. Lidia likes Cupping and Gua Sha therapies and may recommend a session every 10 days or so. We base our recommendations on each individual case and what we feel that patient needs at the time. In General, daily exercise of some nature is recommended for everyone. Stretching is very important, especially of the hamstrings and back, as is strengthening of the abdominal muscles in order to keep an aligned posture. Nutrition is essential for keeping a healthy back body, eating black beans and walnuts is recommended in Chinese nutrition therapy as they strengthen Kidneys and nourish Marrow. Herbal medicine, such as Back Support, has herbs that strengthen the bones, build blood and move blood and Qi into the lower back and legs. Deep breathing into areas of pain is helpful to feel relaxed and allow the body to heal itself. And finally, REST, there is always something to do and get done, but sometimes the body really is asking for some much needed rest and relaxation. We recommend you listen to its advice!
Book an appointment to get on track and heal that back…
Happy Healing San Diego!
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