|jessejamos (jessejamos) wrote,|
@ 2012-03-05 16:23:00
|Entry tags:||fitness, health, medicine, sports|
My first anatomy teacher had a doctorate in neuroanatomy. He was a chiropractor as well. It seems reasonable to assume that he understood back pain better than most. He said that a practitioner could always do well treating back pain for two reasons. One is that there is so much of it going around and the other reason was that 80% of back pain resolves on its own with or without medical intervention. This article is for the 20% whose pain has not gone away all on its own.
Back pain is commonly considered a nerve impingement syndrome. The way it works is that there's some kind of structural problem that prevents the nerves from exiting the spinal cord through the spinal vertebrae and out into the body. When there is something pinching one of these nerves as it exits the spine it causes pain. The common term for this problem is a "pinched nerve."
One way in which doctors determine if there is a nerve impingement is by having the patient lean to the right, and then to the left in order to see if that movement has any effect on the pain. If it does, then a nerve is being pinched. If that pinching can be relieved, then, presumably, the pain will go away along with it. It is important to note that this is just one way of testing for a nerve impingement syndrome. This test isn't always an end-all diagnostic tool.
While removing the obstruction to the nerve should remove the nerve pain, it doesn't always work. Surgery, which is expensive at best and dangerous at worst, may be required. Chinese medicine sees these pains as having several possible etiologies. An examination of these causes and some suggested treatments to alleviate the pain are discussed below. Perhaps you'll recognize your own situation and be able to see an acupuncturist/herbalist to help treat it.
Qi is pronounced "Chee" and is sometimes spelled Chi. This is basically the energy that circulates throughout your body. This Qi flows through a network of channels and meridians. This sounds much like our neurological system. If push came to shove, we could say that Qi stagnation is the pinched nerve syndrome. But this is not entirely accurate because acupuncture is very adept at treating this frequent cause of back pain without having any effect on the mechanics of the situation. We simply insert needles near the location of the pain and at a few other strategic locations to stimulate the movement of qi in the desired area and the pain goes away. We don't do any manipulation of the spine, perform surgery to remove a herniated disc, or perform any other invasive procedure and, yet, the pain is relieved. This begs the question - Is the nerve impingement theory the correct explanation for back pain?
While debating the cause is interesting for theorists, it does little for the sufferer. Left untreated, Qi stagnation can lead to blood stagnation, and what was a dull ache that radiates outward from the central location can become a very sharp fixed pain. Qi stagnation lower back pain is sometimes found in women who have painful periods. Again, in this case, acupuncture is the treatment of choice.
Another cause of Qi stagnation is the invasion of cold or dampness into the acupuncture channels that go up and down the spine. In Western culture we talk about catching a cold. In Chinese medicine we can also catch a damp. This damp and cold can end up in the meridians and slow the flow of Qi and cause pain. For instance, if cold or damp weather aggravates the condition, then it is likely that you've got some cold or dampness stuck in the channels of the back impeding the flow of Qi. This is actually a typical form of arthritis. A great herbal formula for this is called Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. However, this is only appropriate if the problem is aggravated by cold or damp weather. If your diagnosis is incorrect it won't help, and may even hamper your healing. That is why it is recommended that you see a qualified acupuncturist/herbalist who can give you an accurate diagnosis.
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