Talking from experience, back pain can be a real, well, pain. Two weeks ago, my back started to spasm. I had a hard time walking, sitting, and even laying down. Being an active and healthy person, this was very hard for me to cope with. But, by using a combination of therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine, my back pain has been resolved!

Back pain is a struggle for many of us. In fact, 1 in every 4 people in the United States will suffer from back pain at least once in their lives. In addition, back pain is the #1 cause of missed work and hospital visits! There are many causes of back pain from muscle strains to injuries to herniated discs. This is because our back is the “work horse” of the body and is involved in almost every movement that we make. The structure of our back makes us flexible and strong, yet this same structure also makes us prone to injuries.

Acupuncture can resolve back pain because it reduces inflammation and pain, relieves muscle strain and tension, and increases circulation to the local area. Therefore, acupuncture not only relieves back pain but decreases tissue repair and healing. Chinese herbal medicine can not only relieve pain but it also stops the root causes of pain by increasing the underlying disorder that allows the body to have back pain to begin with.

For me, back pain was slightly familiar to me. I had it once before while I was working on the cruise ship. It came upon me like a tidal wave; there were no warning signs. Looking back, I understood that this happened for a number of reasons. I had been working 7 days a week, I was under tremendous pressure, I was wearing heels to the lectures that I would give, and I was not working out or stretching. Being that I was the only acupuncturist on board, I became best friends with a lonely tennis ball. I would use the tennis ball to roll on and it became my only means of relief. It was no replacement for acupuncture but it was the best that I could do in my circumstances.

This time, three weeks ago, was slightly different. Yes, I was under a lot of stress and pressure but I knew that I had been sitting at my desk for hours at a time and I was lifting weights at least two times a week. Sitting puts a lot of stress and tension on our low backs and also tightens our hip flexors, which are located in the front of the thighs. Perhaps I was more active this time but, I was failing to stretch. And I knew better.

So, thus began my slow but steady rehabilitation. Luckily, I have two acupuncturists whom I get my treatments from. These two were truly live-savers. After my first treatment, I could walk without a hunch and had 30% less pain. The next day, an acupuncturist put me through a number of stretches that increased my flexibility and mobility. My pain was down to 20%. Two days later, I had my 2nd acupuncture treatment. After the treatment, my acupuncturist again assisted me in stretches and I only had pain when I moved too quickly or twisted. The next day I had my third acupuncture treatment. The following day, I was able to do a forward bend! I called my acupuncturist right away to brag!

What I did on my own was very important as well. I made sure to take a Chinese herbal formula that increases tendon strength and strengthens the low back while decreasing pain. I also drank plenty of water. And, I made sure to walk for at least 30 minutes per day. This allowed me to get my exercise and warm up my body so that I could stretch safely. I made sure to stretch for 20 minutes everyday.

This combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, exercise, and stretching has made my recovery a breeze. While on the cruise ship and without these tools, my back pain remained for 4 weeks. Using these modalities, my back pain lasted one week.

With modern research proving the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the treatment and resolution of back pain, western conventional doctors have begun to look towards Chinese medicine as another option for back pain. My hope is that less people will have to suffer from back pain as more effective treatment options are explored from an integrated perspective