Back Pain

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16 02, 2014

Back Pains and How to Manage Them

Back pain is a symptom of a medical condition when one experiences an aching sensation in his back. Medics have described it as one of the major cause of job-related absence across the world. Even though no one is immune to back pain, recent research has indicated a high prevalence in adults of thirty five(35)

25 10, 2013

The Amazing Therapy Acupuncture Treats Pain Effectively

Originating from China, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years and today this therapy is a widely practiced and accepted form of complementary medicine. It was a Dutch doctor who first introduced this kind of treatment in 1683 after he spent a number of years in Nagasaki, Japan, and in fact the first edition

4 05, 2012

Pain Free After 15 Years of Suffering from Chronic Pain

Rob came in to see us as a last resort. For years, he’d been dealing with chronic pain related to hip, back, and leg injuries sustained during a serious accident over 15 years ago and his problem seemed to be getting worse.

At 43 years old, he was unable to work, had trouble standing, and was in constant pain. He also reported having low energy, depression, and sleep and anxiety issues.

Rob was at his wit’s end, tired of dealing with constant pain and taking half a dozen different medications that didn’t seem to help. He had tried and found no relief with various other therapies –  including massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic – and was hopeful acupuncture would work. At the same time he was also convinced he would never get better.

Treatment Plan

Rob came in for twice weekly acupuncture treatments but noticed little change until the sixth visit when he was more relaxed and receptive to the acupuncture treatment.

After that visit he reported an overall decrease in his pain level and said he was able to complete and recover from activities more quickly. At this point, Rob was able to decrease his pain medication and reduced his acupuncture treatments to once a week.

Continued Progress

By the 13th treatment, Rob was in considerably less pain and had decided (with his doctor’s help) to discontinue his pain medication and muscle relaxants. After two weeks, he was amazed at how well he was doing! He was feeling great and said he couldn’t believe he was off medication and feeling so good.

Not only that, but the acupuncture treatments were also helping resolve his insomnia and depression. Rob continued with weekly treatments and continued to test his body physically to see how well it recovered. He was amazed at the results!

Healthy & Happy Again

Rob completed 23 treatments over the course of five months and has made a full recovery.

He is back to his old self, in good spirits, sleeping well, and dealing with absolutely no chronic pain. He is also able to take on physically demanding work and participate in activities that were once impossible including hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking.

We didn’t see Rob again until three months later when he stopped in to book an appointment and told us he’d been feeling so good that he’d actually forgotten to come in.

Despite this, he decided to continue with monthly acupuncture designed to ensure he would continue to live pain free.

Man no longer suffering from chronic pain thanks to acupuncture

Acupuncture offers Hope for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Rob is one of our favourite success stories and a great example of the transformative power of acupuncture. 

We see many patients like Rob, discouraged and defeated by chronic pain issues and dealing with depression and sleep issues that are often aggravated by pain medication. Most have tried everything and truly believe they are a hopeless case.

What’s great about these people is that they are the ones who stand to gain the most from acupuncture, which is particularly good at treating chronic conditions like pain, insomnia, migraines, and digestive issues. Feeling better after years of chronic pain is an incredibly empowering experience that can lead to positive changes in other areas of life as well. And for the team here at Okanagan Acupuncture, it is incredibly rewarding to be a part of these positive changes and to see our patients succeed!

Wondering if acupuncture can help you? Contact us to find out more!

 

10 04, 2012

Back Pain Successfully Resolved

Read how one of our patients successfully resolved back pain with acupuncture!

Back pain and sciatica are painful conditions we see often at the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre and thankfully have remarkable success treating. In some cases, pain results from sitting at a desk for extended periods or from physically demanding work. In others, it may be caused by an old injury or a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Frank is a 45-year-old patient of ours who recently came in for sciatica problems so severe he was bedridden, barely able to walk, and taking Tylenol 3s for the pain. No specific injury had occurred to trigger the condition, however Frank said he’d experienced back pain on and off for nine years. This recent flare up had gone on for two weeks and showed no signs of improving.

man enjoying skiing

Patient History

Frank is physically fit, however he has a tendency to burn the candle at both ends and has recently noticed a decline in his energy level. He works hard during the week and spends much of his time on his feet completing repetitive tasks. On the weekends, he enjoys skiing, hiking, and climbing.

An examination found Frank’s tongue looked normal. His pulse also seemed fine, although a little weak in the kidney and spleen position – likely the result of the natural aging process and his overactive lifestyle.

Because of his low energy, his qi energy (chi) was unable to flow properly through his meridians, resulting in pain. If his kidneys were stronger and his energy levels higher, then it is likely his back would not have been so affected by the demands placed on it.

Our Plan of Action

Our acupuncture treatment plan for Frank consisted of two phases: resolving the acute pain and strengthening the body to prevent future occurrences. During the first treatment, Frank received acupuncture at the point of pain and in other areas that would help strengthen the lower back and address the underlying causes of pain.

Frank experienced mild relief after his first treatment and improved 80 per cent after this third treatment. Regular treatments focused on strengthening the lower back and addressing the underlying cause of pain continued, and by the end of the eighth treatment Frank had recovered fully.

The Future Looks Promising

During treatment, we discussed additional ways Frank could improve his health including making diet changes, resting regularly, and not ‘overdoing’ it. We also discussed the importance of regular monthly acupuncture to maintain optimum health.

After combining acupuncture with lifestyle changes, Frank’s prognosis looks good and today he is happily back skiing and has learned to balance his fast-paced lifestyle in a healthy way so that he can remain pain-free.

Frank is just one example of the many people that have benefited from acupuncture! Wondering if acupuncture can help with your condition? Contact us at our downtown Kelowna location to find out more!

23 03, 2012

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm up and stretching. Many sports injuries can be due to overuse of a part of the body when participating in an activity. Other types of injuries can be caused by hard contact with something. Sports injuries typically involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, and associated tissues like cartilage.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains are a stretch or tear of a ligament, causing tenderness, pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation.
  • Strains are a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, causing pain, muscle spasms, and weakness. 
  • Knee injuries are very common and can range from mild to severe, from pain or tenderness at the front or side of the knee close to the knee cap, tendinitis, and pain in the iliotibial band (the outer side of the knee), to bone bruises or damage to the knee cartilage or ligaments. 
  • Shin splints are another common sports injury involving pain along the tibia or shin bone, typically seen in runners. 
  • Achilles tendon injuries can occur when there is tendinitis already present in the tendon or when a stretch, tear or irritation happens to the tendon. 
  • More severe can be stress fractures, which occur from repeated stress to a bone over time, most often occurring in the legs or feet, and acute fractures, that can occur from a quick, one-time injury to the bone. 
  • Dislocations occur when the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. Dislocations a usually caused by contact sports or high-impact sports.

The great news is that acupuncture can be of benefit to all types of sports injuries. It is of course always best to treat an injury in the acute stage or as soon after an injury occurs as possible, in order to assist the body in healing quickly and fully. Early treatment also helps to prevent the possibility of long-term or chronic problems with the injury down the road due to improper healing. However, acupuncture is also very beneficial in any stage of healing and can also be of great help to old, lingering injuries or injuries that did not properly heal. Acupuncture taps into the body’s own resources to encourage the healing process and the body’s optimal functioning. With sports injuries this can mean reduced inflammation, increased circulation, reduced muscle tension, and of course, pain relief. Treating sports injuries, whether old or new, can help the body to regain former functioning and health levels and prevent more long-term consequences such as reduced mobility, stiffness, weakness, or arthritis.

Our bodies have amazing abilities to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any injury the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, or in cases where long-term damage can occur if left untreated, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

 

24 01, 2012

Post Operative Recovery

Surgery is a powerful tool in the modern medical tool kit and is used today in a wide range of applications. Surgery for musculoskeletal conditions is called orthopedic surgery, and is used to treat musculoskeletal trauma, degenerative diseases, sports injuries, infections, tumours, and congenital disorders (disorders we are born with). This includes surgeries such as hip or knee replacement, spinal surgery or fusion, carpal tunnel release, or repair of tendons, ligaments, or cartilage. However, there are many, many other surgeries that are performed for a variety of reasons, such as to help relieve or prevent pain, to reduce a symptom, to improve some body function, or to diagnose conditions.

With surgery comes certain post-operative side effects and risks. Some of the major concerns with surgery is dealing with post-surgery pain and the side effects of pain medications, as well as making a complete recovery from surgery and regaining our former mobility and functions.

Doctors rely on powerful medications to relieve pain during and immediately after surgery, including opioids and anesthesia. Opioid pain medications are known to cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, pruritis (itch or a sensation that makes a person want to scratch), constipation, and sleepiness, symptoms which can cause difficulty in the recovery and interfere with our day-to-day life. Use of opioids and their side effects may also delay post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture is an excellent option for post-operative recovery and has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of both post-operative pain and the side effects of opioid medications. Acupuncture is probably best known for the treatment of pain and it is indeed very effective for relieving pain and reducing the need for pain medications. Pain limits your ability to breathe deeply, cough, walk and perform the activities necessary for a speedy recovery, and acupuncture can help to manage the pain so that recovery can happen more quickly.

Acupuncture can also treat the side effects of pain medications including dizziness, upset stomach or nausea, loss of appetite, pruritis (itching sensation), urinary incontinence, and digestive problems, making it an effective option for post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture can also help with the body’s recovery following surgery. While surgical techniques have come a long way, surgery still remains a type of trauma that the body must recover and heal from afterwards. Acupuncture helps to boost the immune system and to restore proper functioning to the body, and in post-operative care can help the body to recover and regain health more quickly.  Acupuncture can also help with inflammation, decrease swelling and improve mobility and range of motion after surgery. This is important to recovery in order for a person to regain their full abilities and have full use of the body in the months down the road from surgery. Acupuncture may also help reduce adhesion formation and reduce scarring and scar tissue as the body heals from surgery.

Research shows that acupuncture can indeed be very effective for post-operative recovery when surgery is followed by a series of acupuncture treatments, and it can also be beneficial to perform acupuncture a day or two before surgery. This ensures that the body is in a healthy state going into surgery in order to ensure a complete and healthy recovery!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

23 03, 2011

Chronic Back Pain

I had been experiencing back pain that limited my ability to walk more than 100 yards. I had dealt with this problem for 7 years. I had tried everything else and nothing worked so I thought I would try acupuncture.

When I first came in the pain was from the back of my knees to my upper back. The pain has been reduced to only my lower back now. It has improved to the point that I am now walking a full kilometer! I am also walking straighter. I am very impressed with my results so far. I hope with continued treatments to completely resolve the pain.

-LD. Kelowna, BC

25 02, 2011

Hip Pain

Hip pain is a common problem that can have a wide variety of causes. The exact location of the hip pain can usually provide clues as to the underlying cause. Problems with the hip joint itself typically cause pain on the inside of the hip or the groin. Problems with the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround the hip joint will typically cause pain on the outside of the hip, upper thigh or outer buttock.

Because the hip is of course connected to the rest of the body, hip pain can sometimes be caused by problems in other areas of the body, such as the lower back or knees, called referred pain. Other causes of hip pain may be arthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis; injuries such as bursitis, hip or pelvis fracture, dislocation, sprains, strains, tendinitis, herniated discs, pinched nerves, and sciatica. It can also be caused by more serious conditions such as cancer or osteoporosis.

If hip pain cannot be resolved with self-care measures, treatment for hip pain may vary, depending on the problem that is causing it. Most often it will involve medications such as anti-inflammatories, pain killers, and cortisone shots combined with physiotherapy, exercises, and/or taking a rest from our regular routine to allow the body time to heal. In more severe cases, surgery may be considered.

Of course, we would all prefer a lingering problem to resolve rather than to manage it with medications, and to resolve it before it becomes serious enough to warrant surgery. This is where acupuncture comes in. Acupuncture is a great option for pain and musculo-skeletal problems and typically yields very positive results in all types of pain problems, both chronic and acute. Treatments can help to relieve the pain quite quickly, and also to reduce inflammation and boost the body’s healing mechanisms, which may be just what is needed to resolve a lingering or chronic problem.

In Chinese medicine (TCM) pain is often a due to an obstruction of the flow of qi-energy and blood throughout the body’s meridians or channels. Because qi-energy and blood circulation is what allows the body to perform its regular functions and also to heal when injured, any time the flow is blocked, problems inevitably develop and pain occurs. Acupuncture focuses on removing these blockages to allow full circulation of qi-energy and blood through the body, resolving pain and weakness and allowing the area to function properly again.

While musculo-skeletal problems like hip pain may be due to external causes such as a fall or an overuse injury, internal weaknesses of the body can complicate or aggravate a problem once it is there. Part of an acupuncturist’s job is to look at the overall health of the internal functions to find any areas of imbalance, particularly those that affect the meridians of the hip. Imbalances will contribute to weakness in the hip and make it more prone to injury, as well as more slow to heal. A good example of this is a deficiency of the kidneys, which gradually weaken as we age. This weakness can make us more prone to lower back pain and hip fractures or pain because this area is very closely tied to the health of the kidneys. By improving overall health and correcting imbalances that have an influence on the hip, we can strengthen and improve the health of the hip area so that it functions better and is less prone to future injury down the road- all good news for those suffering from hip pain!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna.

3 01, 2011

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the joints wears down over time. The smooth surface of the cartilage becomes rough, causing irritation. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, there may be no cushion left between the bones and the joint may be left with bone rubbing on bone, causing damage to the ends of the bones and the joints to become painful. The disorder can affect any joint in your body, but most commonly affects joints in your hands, hips, knees, neck, and lower back.

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain (during or after movement), joint tenderness when palpated, joint stiffness (especially upon awakening or after a period of inactivity), loss of flexibility in the joint, a grating sensation in the joint, and bone spurs (extra bone that may form around the affected joint and feel like hard lumps).

It isn't clear what causes osteoarthritis in most cases. Researchers suspect that a combination of factors may play a role in the condition, including the aging process, joint injury or stress, heredity, muscle weakness, and obesity.

There is no known cure for osteoarthritis, and those suffering from osteoarthritis must look for treatments to relieve pain and manage symptoms. Western medical treatment for osteoarthritis includes pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), cortisone shots, and in more severe cases surgery to replace the joint, to fuse the bones in the affected joint, or to realign the affected bones. Physiotherapy, occupational therapists, and braces or shoe inserts may also be recommended, to reduce stress on the joint.

Acupuncture is a useful option to help manage osteoarthritis and help prevent further progression of this condition. Acupuncture sees osteoarthritis as a “bi syndrome”, meaning that it is caused by a blockage that prevents circulation of blood and qi-energy to the joint, leading to pain and stiffness. Over time, the syndrome progresses and the joint deteriorates because of the lack of proper nourishment. Acupuncture focuses on removing the obstruction to the joint and increasing circulation so that the can joint receive proper nourishment. In this way, the symptoms of pain, inflammation, and stiffness can be relieved, and the joint can become stronger and healthier.

This is one of the strengths of acupuncture, especially in the treatment of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis- acupuncture focuses not only on relieving the symptoms but also on strengthening the body and supporting healing, to address the cause of the problem. In this way, acupuncture can help a person with osteoarthritis not only live symptom-free, but also help them to manage the condition in a healthy way and prevent or slow the progression of the condition.

With osteoarthritis, we should remember that this is a problem that will not go away and a proactive approach is necessary. Having osteoarthritis does not necessarily mean that a person must be resigned to pain and suffering- steps can be taken to minimize or prevent symptoms. The key to living with a condition such as this is to take steps towards healthy management through exercise, lifestyle changes, and therapies which relieve symptoms and help manage the condition. Acupuncture is certainly worth considering as part of this routine.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

3 01, 2011

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be debilitating to live with and can interfere with all aspects of daily life. Pain is generally considered chronic if it lasts 6 months or more, and chronic pain may remain constant, or it can come and go. The quality of the pain can be tingling, jolting, burning, dull, aching or sharp.

The cause of chronic pain often isn’t well understood. There may be no evidence of disease or damage that points directly to pain. Or pain may remain after the original injury shows every indication of being healed. It can be due to a chronic condition, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, but often there is still no clear understanding of the physical cause of the pain. Damage to a peripheral or spinal nerve may also lead to chronic pain, where the damaged nerve, not the original injury, is causing the pain. Nerve damage can result from accidents, infections or surgery.

Researchers think chronic pain may be partly caused by sensitization, a process where the nervous system amplifies and distorts pain, resulting in pain that is severe and out of proportion to the disease or original injury. Sensitization may affect all the pain-processing regions of your nervous system, including the sensing, feeling and thinking centers of your brain. When this occurs, chronic pain may be associated with emotional and psychological suffering.

Treatment for chronic pain often means managing the pain through over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription opioids, cortisone, or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). Unfortunately for many, medications often have undesirable side-effects and may offer only limited effectiveness for dealing with the pain. Other treatments may include physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, counseling, and acupuncture, therapies which aim more at resolving the pain. Often, a combination of approaches is needed to effectively treat this problem.

Acupuncture is an excellent option for chronic pain. Although Western medicine has not yet uncovered the mechanisms of acupuncture, it is clear that acupuncture is very effective for treating all kinds of pain, both acute and chronic. This goes beyond the “placebo effect”, as acupuncture works just as well on animals (who bring no expectation to the treatment table). One of the reasons that acupuncture is good for pain is the way in which it stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.

In addition, acupuncture focuses on correcting imbalances in the body and encouraging normal, healthy functioning of the body’s various systems, which may help the body to correct the sensitization process as described above, or changes or disruptions to the body as a result of injury or illness. In this way, it can help both to manage and relieve the pain in the short term, and help to address the underlying causes of the pain to help to resolve chronic pain over time.

In my practice, I have seen patients with chronic pain respond very positively to acupuncture, with a reduction in pain symptoms and the overall level of pain. As pain diminishes, acupuncture helps open the door for healing, allowing a person to regain aspects of their former lifestyle and quality of life. It is very rewarding to see patients who have lived with debilitating pain on a daily basis for many years begin to see improvements in their pain and to see their pain slowly resolve, as is often the case with acupuncture treatment. Although chronic pain is a complex problem, acupuncture is a treatment option certainly worth considering!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

16 12, 2010

Upper Back Pain

The upper back is a section of 12 vertebrae, where the rib cage connects to the spine. Upper back pain can be a common problem for a few reasons, a lot of which have to do with our lifestyle. Because we spend a lot of time sitting, we can put extra strain on the upper back as well as create postural problems. This, combined with lack of exercise which weakens the muscles in the upper back, can lead to upper back pain. Also, many of us carry tension in the shoulders, neck, and upper back, leading to further pain. The spine is a connected unit, so problems in the neck or lower back can lead to pain in the upper back as well.

The two most common causes of upper back pain are muscular pain and joint disorders. Muscular pain can develop easily in the large upper back muscles, either due to lack of strength, or injury from overuse through sports, work, or repetitive use. Joint dysfunctions can also lead to upper back pain. Because the vertebrae in the upper back are connected both to each other and to the ribs, there is more possibility for problems. Problems can arise where the ribs connect to the vertebrae, such as with a rib fracture or a rib that shifts out of place.

Less common causes of upper back pain include Sheurmann’s disease (adolescent kyphosis) and ankylosing spondylitis. With kyphosis, there is a disturbance in the growth of the thoracic vertebrae in adolescence, leading to misshapen, wedge-shaped vertebrae that cause the spine to be curved forward. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammation of the spine that results in a progressive ossification or fusing of the spine. Scoliosis, a condition where the spine curves to the side, can also cause upper back pain.

In the treatment of upper back pain, exercise and postural correction are very important. Acupuncture can also help in the healing process, by helping to relieve pain, inflammation, and stiffness and strengthen the area. By looking at what is causing the pain, we can determine how to correct the problem. Is it due to trauma, whether through an injury or over time through poor posture or repetitive stress? Is it due to our external environment such as too much exposure to cold, heat, damp, or wind? Or is it due to an underlying internal imbalance that is weakening the musculo-skeletal tissues?

In understanding what’s at the root of the problem, we can tailor acupuncture treatment in order to resolve it. While working very well for dealing with the pain and inflammation of upper back pain, acupuncture can also help to strengthen the upper back and to correct internal imbalances that may be contributing to weakness or pain or hampering proper healing. Acupuncture reconnects the interrupted energy flow and corrects imbalances so that the body can better go about its healing, making acupuncture an excellent form of treatment for problems of the upper back.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

11 05, 2010

Lower Back Pain

I was having severe lower back pain. I saw my medical doctor and was given pain killers. I could only sleep 3 hours at a time, waking up in pain.

I decided to try acupuncture as my father did 40 years ago and the results are way beyond my expectation. My pain is virtually gone and I am again enjoying life to its fullest.  -Ron, Kelowna, BC

25 02, 2009

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, running from the spinal cord to the buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg, and about the size of your little finger. Sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve is irritated. The most telltale symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve- from the lumbar area to the buttock and down the back of the leg. The pain can be anywhere from a mild ache to a severe sharp or burning pain, numbness or weak muscles along the nerve pathway, and tingling or pins and needles feeling in the toes or foot.

The irritation of the sciatic nerve can be the result of pressure from muscles that are too tense or too short, a bulging disc in the lumbar vertebral column that pushes on the nerve, an inflammation of the nerve, or bad posture or heavy work that involves a lot of lifting and bending over. The pain can be severe and often gets worse while sitting too long, driving, bending over and lifting heavy objects. Sciatica is a widespread injury and about 40% of us will eventually be affected by it in some form. Sciatic pain will sometimes be the sign of a herniated disc and it is certainly wise to pay attention to it in an early stage and get expert advice.

In Western medicine sciatica can be treated by many different health care professionals. The massage therapist will loosen the tension in the muscles of the back and leg, in order to relieve the sciatic nerve, the physiotherapist will give exercises to improve posture and stretch muscles and can apply ultrasound or interferential current. The chiropractor will align the spine in order to relieve pressure on the nerve. The doctor can prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatories and the surgeon can do surgery to remove the bulging of the disc or contributing problem.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sciatica is considered to be a lower back problem, an area that is strongly influenced by the bladder and kidney channels. Sciatica can be differentiated into different types, depending on the exact cause. Damp-cold invading the back channels can occur in both acute and chronic cases, causing a dull, heavy, radiating pain that may be worse with cold or dampness. Sciatica due to stagnation of qi-energy and blood in the back area can cause either an acute or chronic condition that is aggravated with the absence of movement. Sciatica due to kidney deficiency will result in a chronic condition because of the fact that weak kidneys are unable to properly nourish the lower back area, making it susceptible to injury and dysfunction. This type of sciatica has a slow, gradual onset and typically will get worse in the evening and with fatigue.

Acupuncture can be extremely effective in the treatment of both acute and chronic back pain, including sciatica, regardless of how long the condition has been present. Sciatica often takes longer to treat than other types of back pain, but acupuncture can produce great results, both in treating the pain and in addressing the underlying weakness that is contributing to a sciatic problem.

Often in cases where there is a stubborn problem that doesn’t seem to respond to treatment, acupuncture can remove the blockages and open the doors for healing. Combined with exercises and postural advice, is a very valuable tool in treating sciatica.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

17 12, 2008

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common complaint that we see often at our clinic. It is most commonly attributed to chronic ligament strain, spinal degeneration or osteoarthritis, or a prolapsed lumbar disc, problems that can be aggravated by a modern lifestyle that may involve a lot of sitting, or heavy strain from physical work or exercise.

Treatment often can include pain medication, chiropractic to realign the vertebrae, massage therapy to relax the muscles, and physiotherapy to correct posture and strengthen the muscles. Surgery may also be considered in severe cases.

Acupuncture can thankfully give very positive results to lower back pain sufferers, in part because Chinese medicine brings quite a different approach to the treatment of lower back pain, and one that is very effective. Back pain in Chinese medicine can be due to a number of factors that either make the back more susceptible to pain or lead to the pain itself, the most common being a weakness of the kidneys, causing a lack of nourishment of the lower back and spine.

The kidneys have a strong influence on the strength and nourishment of the tissue and bones of the lower back area so we always look at the strength of the kidneys when treating back pain, and what may be causing a kidney weakness. It is common for back pain to have a number of causes which create different kinds of pain. The type of pain that is experienced often tells the acupuncturist the underlying cause of the pain and helps point towards the proper diagnosis for treatment.

Invasion of cold and/or damp in the low back area can be a factor. It is usually due to the lower back being exposed during cold and damp weather, which allows the cold and dampness to invade and block the flow of energy and blood circulation.  This type of low back pain usually produces pain that is worse in the morning, better with exercise, better with heat, and worse when weather is cold and damp. 

Back pain due to stagnation of qi-energy and blood is usually caused by an acute sprain or, in chronic conditions, repeated sprain and underlying kidney weakness. Excessive physical work and over-lifting can often lead to this type of pain. Back pain due to qi-energy and blood stagnation is characterized by pain that is severe and stabbing, which gets worse with rest and better with light exercise. The area will be tender to the touch and there will be stiffness of the back muscles and inability to flex, extend or turn the waist.

Because the kidneys have an important function in the creation of energy, general overwork can also lead to chronic pain due to the constant drain on the kidneys’ energy, leading to an overall kidney weakness. Chronic back pain due to kidney weakness is usually dull and comes in bouts. It is better with rest and worse when a person is tired. This type of weakness creates a further vulnerability for an invasion of cold and damp or sprains. 

These are just a few examples of how Chinese Medicine diagnoses lower back pain. Acupuncture is then used to remove blockage in the lower back area which cause pain and weakness, and to stimulate and strengthen weak and depleted kidneys to aid their function of nourishing the tissues of the lower back. Treatment targets many internal factors, the goal being not only to alleviate the pain, but also to effectively resolve chronic conditions and strengthen the body to prevent future pain from arising.

Lower back pain is a common ailment that I see in my practice, and it generally responds very positively to acupuncture, whether it is a recent problem or a chronic problem. A person will usually first notice a reduction in the pain within a few acupuncture treatments, followed by an overall improvement of health, strength, and mobility in the lower back. With additional treatments, many cases of lower back pain can be resolved, allowing a person to resume their former lifestyle free of pain and negative symptoms.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.