You’ve probably had lower back pain—80% of us have.
You can be innocently doing the dishes and something tweaks, or you can be working all day in the garden. In either case, suddenly you can’t move. Aches, shooting pain, restricted range of motion, weakness…
Western Medicine describes the cause of lower back pain from a physiological perspective. Typical causes are sprains (overstretching the ligaments), strains (tearing a muscle), herniated discs (budging spinal discs) or sciatica (compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve).
But Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a different perspective and recognizes 3 main causes of lower
- Deficiency: This pain is dull and chronic. Rest relieves the pain and it is common in middle-aged to elderly people.
- Stagnation: This back pain is severe and stabbing. The muscles are stiff and tight. Rest makes the pain worse. Although this pain is common with acute sprains and strains, it can reoccur if there is an underlying deficiency.
- Cold damp: This pain can accompany numbness, swelling or a general feeling of heaviness. It is worse in the morning or in cold, wet conditions. Heat relieves the pain.
For the most effective pain relief, make an appointment with an acupuncturist for a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. But if you can’t get to an acupuncturist, what can you do at home to get some relief?
- Ice and Heat. Heat relaxes and loosens your muscles and increases blood flow. Ice reduces inflammation and relieves pain. Many people like to alternate heat and ice.
- Walk. Keep moving, especially after the initial pain has passed. Walking loosens the muscles and gets your blood flowing. It is also a pleasant diversion from your discomfort.
- Stretch. Once the acute pain is over, stretch your hips. Pay attention to stretching your hamstrings (the backs of your legs) and your front groins. Go slowly and gently. Use supports to keep from stretching too far.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Some people find relief by resting on their back. Be sure your knees are bent to prevent over-arching your lower back.
- Wintergreen. Salves and balms with wintergreen may relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. Wintergreen gives a cooling sensation and has a very pleasant smell.
- Have fun. Watch a funny movie. Visit some friends. Laugh. Enjoy yourself. You’ll feel much better.
- Massage. Massage is quite effective for relieving back pain.
- Swim. Swimming is gentle exercise and terrific for your back.