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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.