Lower back pain is a common presentation and Acupuncture is an excellent option for back pain sufferers. Whether you’ve just hurt it or an old injury from years ago, here’s how Chinese Medicine techniques can help.
Have you ever felt like a 90 year old when you get out of bed? Hobbling around hunched forwards thinking, “what did I do to deserve this?!”
Lumbar Disc Degeneration “Slipped Disc” or “Bulging Disc”Slipped Disc and Bulging Disc mean that the due to forces and pressure on the spinal disc, it has changed shape, causing inflammation and pain.If using your lower back improperly, too much repetitive work such as excessive bending and twisting, the discs between your spine vertebrae will begin to deteriorate. This narrowing of the space where the discs act as a cushion, can limit range of movement, pinch local nerves, cause inflammation and create tight surrounding muscles in the lower back.Acupuncture works by loosening tight muscles such as the Quadratus Lumborum and Psoas which frees up your range of motion, release tension impinging on nerves and settling inflammation. Chinese cupping can be a useful tool here if the muscles are particularly rigid or what we call “Guarding”.Acupuncture cannot change the structure of the discs, rather helps relieve the cause of pain such as muscle tension, spasm and inflammation. It will get you through an acute episode of pain and help manage your lower back long term to prevent frequent irritation of the discs.
Sciatica is the pinching of the sciatic nerve and can produce pain in the lower back, gluteal muscles or hip and lower leg. Acupuncture directed at the Piriformis muscle can release the muscle and take pressure off the sciatic nerve. Acupuncture can also helps symptoms further down the chain – the hip, hamstring and calf, the addition of electro-acupuncture can also enhance results.
Studies show acupuncture helps to minimize inflammation and therefore pain. The signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling and pain. Burning pain can be felt in the lower back when muscles are tight and rigid or if there is tendonitis.
When lower back muscles are fatigued, overused and incorrectly used, they can go into spasm. This feels like a sudden and intermittent pain as its like the muscles are short-circuiting when they go into spasm. Acupuncture can help interrupt this spasm ‘loop’ by releasing the tension, calming the nerves in the local area and encouraging muscle fibre stretch.
Muscular Spasm can also be an indicator of Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps muscles contract and relax as they’re designed to. Spasm is almost like your muscles short-circuiting because the nutrient, Magnesium, is lacking and what allows muscle tissue to relax.
Moxibustion or Electro-acupuncture can also be of benefit here.
The Kidney energy governs the lower back in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Therefore a weak lower back is interpreted as weak Kidney energy. Never fear! This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your Kidney organs, more that Acupuncture, Moxa and Cupping can be used to release the muscles and stuck energy in the Lower back AND strengthen the Kidney energy to prevent further lower back weakness.
Some useful acupoints are:
Shen Shu This is a combination of 2 points at the level of Lumbar vertebrae 2 & 3, they are excellent release points for many cases of lower back pain and strengthen Kidney Qi.
Shi Qi Shui Xia (Translation: Below the 17th vertebra) This is at the junction of the Lumbar and Sacral joints. Excellent points for stiffness of the spine low down.
Yao Yan (Translation: Lumbar Eyes) The dimples of the lower back where a lot of people instinctively rub when they have a sore lower back.
Next time you’re feeling lower back pain think of acupuncture! Its a method of effective pain relief without the use of drugs. Acupuncture is safe when performed by a Registered Acupuncturist. In my opinion, Dry needling by other therapists don’t always take the holistic approach that an Acupuncturist can. Managing lower back pain as well as strengthening your Kidney Qi can help provide a solution long term.