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Natural Relief for Back Pain

“I was just brushing my teeth when suddenly I felt a ‘pop’ and hot electric shock across my back that put me on the floor in agonizing pain.” This is how patients commonly describe their encounters with immobilizing back pain. In my own case, just bending over to photograph a shard of ancient pottery in the desert left me with severe spasms, unable to bend to tie my shoelaces. Sleeping on the ground, surrounded by curious skunks, I was unable to move, but thankful they weren’t snakes.  Perhaps you have a similar experience, or just soreness following a day of gardening. Either way, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the commonest afflictions of modern Americans, said to be the number one reason for lost productivity on the job, and one of the main reasons people come for acupuncture treatment.

While it may appear that backs suddenly go out for no reason, it is understood that the sneeze was only the final straw in a chain of events possibly including injuries, poor nutrition or conditioning and so on. In Chinese medicine we consider many other factors including constitutional weakness, age, weather factors and emotions. Selection of points and herbs depends on the resulting diagnosis.  I would like to present several cases to illustrate different underlying factors and methods of treatment.

Typically patients are treated with acupuncture and other modalities. One elderly woman, unable to lie on her stomach, was treated sitting up in a chair, using just points on one hand, ear and ankles. In two treatments she was fine, returning after seven years for a shoulder problem. One middle aged woman’s   back took a daily pounding driving a forklift. From past experience she knew that a planned drive to southern California would be extremely uncomfortable. She bought a magnet to place on her low back for the trip and, when she returned, reported have had no pain and wanting another magnet for her mother. Another middle aged woman reported back pain suddenly seizing her while driving through a rainstorm, then calming once back out in the sun. I saw it as extreme sensitivity to dampness and gave an herbal formula that seemed to take care of the problem in a couple weeks. A fifteen year old girl came in who suffered severe mid back pain and cried herself to sleep every night for months. I diagnosed ‘stuck blood’ and performed one treatment of ‘gua sha’, rubbing her back with a Chinese soup spoon to resolve the problem. The most dramatic case I recall was a man with herniated disks, considering spinal surgery. After five minutes on the ‘Chi Machine’ he was pain free and remains so almost three years later.

I do not want to suggest that back treatment is a quick fix- it is not in most cases. I do want to make the point that many alternative techniques are available for relief from acute or chronic back pain.


Serving Washington and Columbia counties since 1994, including cities and communities of Scappoose, St Helens, Warren, Rainier, Columbia City, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Beaverton, Aloha, Portland, Gaston, Banks, North Plains, Carlton and Yamhill Oregon


Pain, back pain, aging, degeneration, injuries, herbs, supplements, acupuncture, nutrition, gua sha, magnets, Chi Machine


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