Painful obstruction means that the qi is blocked and obstructed and cannot flow smoothly. This means that in the body the energy is not moving and this can in turn cause pain, itching, numbness and paresthesia, or weakness of the hands and feet similar to atrophy. However, atrophy (which is the total loss of feeling), is related to internal causes which can be from blood deficiency or blazing fire in the body. In Chinese Medicine this is caused by an external pathogen such as wind, cold, damp or heat, which then enters the system because the individual has an underlying weakness that allows it to enter into the system.


In the Classic Chinese Tradition, in the spring it is the sinews which are affected, in the summer, the vessels, in the late summer, the muscles, in the autumn it is the skin, and in the winter it is the bones. This is where the pathogen enters since at these times the parts of the body are more vulnerable. In general, wind and dampness affects the upper body with stiffness and numbness of the shoulders, neck, hands and wrists. Damp and cold affect the lower part of the body with the legs and feet feeling heavy. With wind, the pain moves around in the body, with heat, there is inflammation, and with cold there is severe pain and stiffness of the whole body. With dampness there is usually swelling and edema with a heaviness involved.


Painful obstruction with cold is indicated when the body cannot get warm along with coldness in the limbs. The treatment principle in this case would be to get rid of the cold and begin to warm the body up with acupuncture, herbs and also a treatment with moxabustion and a heat lamp. The patient will begin in time to have better circulation and their Qi will begin to circulate in a more fluid way. For the past couple months I have been treating a woman who had back surgery about ten years ago who now has no feeling in her feet and her feet when she first cam in to see me were actually purple. I have not only done acupuncture on her weekly, but also have given her two formulas to take and also some revisions in her diet. As of yesterday we both noticed that her feet are no longer purple and she is beginning to feel better. This is a fairly short time considering that she has had this for so long.


When the obstruction is in the bones, there is a heavy sensation with difficulty in lifting the limbs. It resonates with the kidneys and creates a weakness in the legs, knees and feet. I have a patient who is a man in his forties that when he was three years old he had nephritis, which is a disease of the kidneys. Since this happened to him at such a young age he had developed a kidney weakness that has gone on to create a deep deficiency over a period of forty years. This was treated with western medication at the time although it was never treated with alternative medicine, which at the time would have begun to build his kidney energy back up. I find this to be the greatest difference between eastern and western medicine. The western approach will give medications to resolve a situation but the eastern approach tries to figure out why this has happened so that they can treat the actual cause and begin to create balance in the system.


Several years ago this man who was now in his early forties was lifting a rather heavy mirror in his bedroom when his disks around his kidney area totally ruptured. At this time he had surgery where they fused the disks and he has now many years later has almost no feeling in his legs and his feet. I believe that this goes back to his original illness at the age of three years old that created a kidney deficiency thereby causing his disks to rupture. This patient is now coming in again and beginning the feel some energy moving in his legs and feet. Through treatments and herbs I can begin to build this patient back up again.


Over time the painful obstructions become chronic causing even more pain and numbness and becomes harder to treat. It is always best to come in at the onset of a problem and even better to get treatments so that these types of problems do not occur. Please don’t wait to create health and well being in your body until it becomes too late.

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