The lower back in Chinese Medicine is the residence of the Kidneys. If the back pain radiates down the leg from the back it indicates a more Full condition, usually from Damp-Cold in the leg channels. Occasionally it may also be due to Damp-Heat. The pain may also only occur in the leg without affecting the back. This syndrome of back pain is called Sciatica. It is important to try and find out what channels are involved so that certain acupuncture points can be used. As mentioned in many of my other articles, pain can be caused by both a deficiency or an excess condition as well as be an acute problem, which occurs suddenly or a chronic problem which continually occurs over time. Chronic conditions are always due to Kidney deficiency which can be combined with retention of Damp-Cold or stagnation of Qi and Blood.
Throughout my eighteen years in acupuncture, I have seen many types of Sciatica and the use of both Acupuncture and Herbs have gotten some very quick results. Many times there is a radiating leg pain in the very back of the leg or on the side of the leg. It usually occurs down one leg only and can be resolved in just a few treatments. The use of the herbs helps to release the cold, nourish the Kidneys and remove the dampness. Along with these treatments, I have given herbs to many patients to take for several months afterwards to minimize further back problems. It is also interesting to look at the function of the back, which helps us to stand erect in the world and move forward. In times of stress, many people experience back problems.
When a backache is accompanied by sciatica it usually takes a little longer to treat. As mentioned above, Sciatica is usually caused by Wind-Cold in both acute and chronic cases. The pain is usually worse in the morning and better with light exercise and movement. The pain can be relieved by an application of heat and is worse when the weather is cold and damp. During an acupuncture treatment I use both a special heat lamp and a warming herb called moxa. When Cold predominates there may be stiffness and contraction of the back muscles and the pain is more aggravated by rest and stagnation. When Dampness predominates there may be swelling, numbness and a feeling of heaviness.
My 55 year old patient complained of an acute backache, which had started after working at one of her jobs as a gardener. The pain was intense and was centered around the lower left kidney area. It radiated downwards to the left buttocks and the back of the leg. She was so uncomfortable that she came directly from work to see if she could get some relief so that she could go back to her job the following day. We even did her verbal intake with her standing up rather than sitting. The muscles on her left side were in spasm and the entire area felt very stiff. She was treated with both distal points and local points for a period of 45 minutes with both needles and moxa. I also sent her home with a fabulous Chinese formula for Sciatica. Upon getting off the table 80% of all her pain was gone and in the next couple days we gave her one more treatment and she took the herbs for four days. After the last treatment she was totally pain free.
Lower backache and Sciatica can be treated perfectly, adequately and successfully according to Chinese Medicine. The results are profound with no Western pain medications or treatments.