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Have you noticed that you have acute flare-ups of back pain more often when you are stressed? Whether it is a problem at work or an argument at home, it can be said that we carry the weight of our emotions our backs. Conversely, when we are in pain it makes us feel stressed.

Back Pain

Findings by The National Institutes of Health reported that up to 80 percent of the general population will suffer an episode of low back pain in their lifetime. Just behind upper respiratory illness, it is the most common reason Americans seek medical treatment. It is also the most frequent reason that people in the U.S. visit a licensed acupuncturist.

Many people in this country now know that acupuncture is very effective for all types of pain including low back pain. But, do you also know that it is extremely relaxing and great at relieving your stress? There have been many research studies which confirm that acupuncture is highly effective, very comfortable, and minimally invasive healthcare.

Emotions and Back Pain

The emotions of stress cause a blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy), blood, and fluids in your system. In the theory and practice of acupuncture, we know that it is important to eliminate the blockages and facilitate a free flow of qi.

A common Chinese saying in traditional Chinese medicine translated as “When there is pain there is no free flow, when there is free flow there is no pain.” Your low back pain is an indication that your qi is blocked.

In traditional Chinese medicine, part of the diagnostic assessment could be qi stagnation with blood stasis causing pain. This means that the qi, or energy, is not moving freely and since qi moves blood, neither is the blood.

Physiologically, neuro-endocrine responses in the hypothalamus cause the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Stress leads to an over working of the adrenals which eventually leads to a deficiency in the kidney energy.

The low back is the mansion of the kidneys according to Chinese medicine. Anatomically this is where the kidneys are located in the body. This partially explains why low back pain is often symptomatic of prolonged stress.

In fact, Chinese medical practitioners know that enduring diseases of any kind eventually reach the kidneys. Reducing your stress is important for many reasons that you may not be aware of.

When treating lower back pain, acupuncturists do not have a one size fits all type of approach. Experienced acupuncturists recognize that there are different types of low back pain. It can be an underlying excess or deficient condition, and most commonly it is a combination of both.

This is why acupuncture treatments for each patient differs, with the diagnosis being based on the results of examination.

Important parts of the diagnostic procedure in Chinese medicine are asking questions to determine whether the pain is sharp or dull, constant or intermittent; and when the pain first occurred and whether it gets better or worse as the day goes on.

The acupuncturist will also ask what other health concerns you have, check your pulse and tongue, and do some manual palpation (touching the body lightly with the fingers).

Patients often experience such fast relief that it is like magic! I can’t guarantee the magic … but, I always go for it!


The Stress Connection: Low Back Pain
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