Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part blog post. You can read part II here.
Back pain is easily the most common pain symptom that I treat. Issues can arise from “sleeping wrong” and getting a stiff neck, to mid-back pain from poor ergodynamics at the office, to lifting a weight causing low back pain.
I offer two examples from patients who came in with different back pain. This will be Part I.
“Jane” was a 52-year old office manager, who had reoccurring lower back pain from bulging and herniated disks in L4 and L5. On this occasion, she had thrown out her back lifting a bag of groceries. She had excruciating pain in her back, as well as pain in her sciatic nerve going down both legs. When she came in to see me, she could barely walk or sit from the pain, and “hadn’t slept for 3 days.”
Sciatic pain, in western terms, is caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched or damaged by the lower spine. The nerve emanates from the lower spine, travels through the hips and buttocks, then down the sides of both legs. The pain can be mild discomfort and numbing sensation, to sharp burning or electric pain.
Chinese diagnosis of this condition is very similar in that many treatments focus on the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs (though, like with nearly every other treatment in Chinese Medicine, there are points far away from the pain that may be used).
For the first treatment, I did a combination of acupuncture and shiatsu massage (see my blog post to see the wonders of shiatsu). The massage was meant to relax the muscles around the spine, helping the vertebrae to ease back in to proper alignment. I also did local points at the area of pain on the back (GV4 & GV3), and in the buttocks (BL30 – BL 35).
In Chinese medicine, sciatica generally is the domain of the Gall Bladder Meridian, as the nerve mirrors the path of this meridian almost perfectly. Because of this, I was able to choose a variety of points along the meridian to treat the pain, from GB29 all the way down to GB44.
By our fourth treatment, less than three weeks later, the patient came in expressing her amazement over how much better she felt. Her pain was almost “95% gone.” She said that in the past when she had similar pain, she would be in pain for over a month. “To feel this good this soon is a miracle!” We determined that after this fourth appointment, there was no need to continue treatment. She left happy and healed!