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Find Back Pain Relief with Oriental Medicine

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Many of us know back pain manifests in a myriad of ways and for a myriad of reasons. A young patient experiencing acute low back pain felt after competing in a weightlifting competition may very well receive a different diagnosis and treatment than a frail, elderly patient suffering from years of chronic discomfort of the lower back.

According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, pernicious elements such as cold, damp and wind can enter the body and cause damage. For example, someone caught unprepared in a cold downpour may start to experience stiff low back muscles that feel cool to the touch. This is an example of 'cold-damp invading the body.'

Another condition that is notorious for causing back pain is termed kidney deficiency. Unlike the above example, the trigger for pain did not arise in the external environment but instead from within the body. Kidney deficiency denotes a lack of vitality in the processes that relate to this organ.

The kidneys rule the lower back and knees and are the ultimate power source for the entire body. A common sign of kidney deficiency therefore also includes fatigue in addition to pain in the back and knees. Due to the kidneys close proximity to the lower back it makes sense why a deficiency here can produce pain in the surrounding area.

To address the symptoms of back pain due to cold-damp invasion, moxibustion proves a viable, effective therapy. One method of application involves a rolled-up mixture of a special herb called mugwort. This often takes the form of what looks like a cigar, and like a cigar, it is lit at one end. The burning herb produces a medicinal smoke that is placed near the areas of pain.

The smoke and heat then enter the body to dry up the dampness and provide heat to combat the cold lodged in the muscles. It is the nature of damp to cause stagnation which, in turn, causes pain. The nature of cold is to contract, also causing pain. A hearty blood supply brings warmth and movement to soothe an aching, stiff back. This makes moxa an excellent way to alleviate back pain due to damp-cold.

The wonderful thing about moxa therapy is that it is so versatile it can be used to help a patient with back pain due to kidney deficiency as well. This is because when the kidney energy is low, it usually implies the presence of an internal cold condition. This suppresses the natural warmth and free flow of energy required to keep muscles supple, strong, and pain-free.

When placed at the proper place on a patient's body, the curative properties from the smoke will help restore the vitality of the kidneys. It is often beneficial to hold the moxa stick near the physical location of the kidneys.

This promotes a reduction or elimination of back pain and, at the same time, increases a patient's overall energy levels. Another wonderful thing regarding moxa is that when it is the appropriate treatment, it is largely a very enjoyable experience.

However, there are many other therapies a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine have at their disposal to relieve back pain. No matter the age, condition or reasoning for the pain, there are effective treatments for virtually everyone.

Are you suffering from back pain?  Find an Acupuncturist and learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

Source: Maciocia G. Questions and Answers: Backaches, Calf Muscle Ache, Fatigue, Headaches, Multiple Sclerosis, Trigeminal Neuralgia. Giovanni Maciocia. Retrieved from

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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