Chinese Medicine for Back Pain

Have you experienced back pain? You are not alone. Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives (60-70% according to the World Health Organization1). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work, and it is a leading cause of disability worldwide.”2 

The causes of back pain are sometimes clear (an accident, lifting a particularly heavy piece of furniture, sitting in an uncomfortable position for too long), and sometimes not so clear (mysterious twinge upon waking, incapacitating spasm from looking in your rear view mirror). Whatever the cause Chinese medicine can help!

Acupuncture – Come in and get a treatment! “Wait,” you say, “OAP just has reclining chairs and everyone keeps their clothes on. How are you going to treat my BACK?” No problem! There are points on the hands, feet, legs, and arms that correspond to your back. Whatever is causing your back pain we can bring energy flow through the area to reduce pain and increase chances of healing.

Exercise – There are a few simple exercises you can do at home to help keep your back healthy and pain free. If you are already having back pain, do these exercises with caution or wait until you’ve seen your doctor before trying them.

  1. Hip rotations – stand with feet shoulder width apart and rotate your hips in circles that are parallel to the floor. Start with 10 reps in each direction and build your way up to 30 reps in each direction every day.
  2. Swing and twist – stand with feet shoulder width apart. Gently twist your back so you are looking to the right or all the way to the back. Then gently twist to the left. Go slowly at first, and if your back feels good you can increase the speed so your arms are swinging from side to side.
  3. Shoulder rotations – stand with feet shoulder width apart. With arms hanging down by your side, move your shoulders forward, up, back, and down. Repeat 10 times then switch directions and do 10 repetitions.

Food – In Chinese medicine the lower back is associated with the Kidney system. Eating foods that strengthen the Kidneys will help the lower back. Foods that strengthen the Kidneys are: animal kidneys, beans of all kinds (they look like kidneys!), mulberries, chestnuts, and black sesame seeds. Eating an overall healthy diet and limiting sugar, alcohol, and caffeine will also help keep you healthy and strong and eliminate inflammation.

Acupressure – You can give yourself a treatment at home (or have a friend or loved one help). Massage these points gently for 10 minutes on each side. A couple of our favorite points for back pain are:

Yao tong xue – “Lumber pain point” – two points on the back of the hand – one point is between the second and third metacarpals and the other is between the fourth and fifth metacarpals.Massage between the bones wherever you find the most tender areas. Try both hands – one is usually more sore than the other.

Houxi – “Back stream” (aka Small Intestine 3) – on the pinky side of the hand in the depression proximal (closer to the wrist) to the top of the fifth metacarpal bone. 

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