Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A 70-year-old patient of mine suffered from tingling in her leg about a year ago. The pain started from the hip and buttocks, and extended along the outer side of her leg down to the ankle, with a burning sensation in her leg. In the beginning, she could gain some relief after resting. However, the pain eventually became worse.It is not unusual for people aged 35 or above to suffer from low back pain induced by slipped disk in the spine. Acupuncture, appropriate stretching exercises and physiotherapy are typical non-surgical treatments to relieve the pain.

Three months ago, the patient’s son phoned me up for an on-site acupuncture treatment for his mother, because her leg felt so painful that she could not go out to visit a physiotherapist.

She couldn’t even sit or stand properly.

From her symptoms, I suspected that she might have sciatica – which refers to pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg, usually caused by injury or pressure on the sciatic nerve.

The triggers are often problems in the lower back and buttocks – and can include a herniated (slipped) disk, a pain disorder in the narrow muscle in the buttocks, pelvic injury or fracture, and even tumors.

After eight acupuncture treatments, together with the intake of some herbal medicine, she got better and could walk for a short distance.

In addition, I instructed her to stretch and strengthen the muscles in her lower back to alleviate the pressure to the joints.

In traditional Chinese medicine, sciatica falls into the category of bizheng, which is similar to arthralgia.

Bizheng includes most joint pain, and it is easily affected by three natural environmental factors – cold, humidity and wind.

That is why we can see more patients with joint pain during spring and winter.

Bizheng usually attacks the weaker parts of our body. Take sciatica, for instance.

It is not surprising that acupuncture can alleviate lower back pain. In May 2009, a study by the Center for Health Studies in the United States found that 60 percent of patients given acupuncture for back pain felt better a year after treatment, compared with 39 percent of those who were not given the treatment.

Still, attention must be given to aged patients whose recovery may tend to be slow. In this way, acupuncture should go hand in hand with Chinese medicine to help expedite the healing process.

As importance is attached to the prevention of disease in Chinese medicine, we should pay attention to our daily posture to prevent distortion of the spinal cord, which may induce lower back pain.

Some physical exercises intended to strengthen the muscles in the waist will help to lessen the likelihood of lower back pain.

Wong Pui-man is a registered Chinese medicine practitioner with a Bachelor of Chinese Medicine degree from the Hong Kong Baptist University. www.facebook.com/ CandyWongAcupuncture

Originally posted on TheStandard