Aches and pains in TCM
April 23, 2020
Are you suffering from aches and pains? Chinese medicine views any form of pain as a sign of stagnation that needs to be dispersed to reduce any unpleasant sensations and make you feel better again. A good example of this is a common bruise, which is a result of blood stagnation in a particular area. By moving energy (Qi) with acupuncture and supplementary techniques, we can also shift this stagnant blood away from the affected area, thus reducing the pain and clearing the bruise.
There have been numerous studies and clinical trials of using acupuncture to treat both acute and chronic forms of various painful conditions, resulting in a very positive feedback and encouraging a better integration of acupuncture and TCM treatments into mainstream health care systems of different countries.
Painful conditions can manifest in many different ways and affect various areas, organs or systems of the body - headaches and migraines, various joint and muscle pain, menstrual pain, gastro-intestinal pain, back pain, etc. As a general rule, acute pain responds to the treatment faster, whereas chronic conditions with stubborn forms of pain usually take longer to resolve.
When treating pain with acupuncture, we can use both local and distal points, allowing for better comfort during the treatment. Using distal points can be particularly helpful when treating severely affected areas, e.g. burns, or when the affected area is covered in a bandage or cast, preventing direct access. For example, we can effectively treat pain in the right foot by using corresponding acupuncture points in the left hand, which is quite remarkable!
It is also important to understand that acupuncture does not provide a magic "one treatment" solution. As it often takes a while to develop the chronic pain, the consistent and regular treatment until the pain is resolved is a key to your recovery. After the first acupuncture session you should feel an improvement in a form of release, soothing and unblocking of stagnation in the area. In parallel, you can help your body recover sooner by following recommended simple improvements to your lifestyle, such as sufficient hydration, healthy diet and possibly taking some herbs or supplements to further reduce the inflammation, allowing you to relax and heal.
When treating pain, Chinese medicine concentrates on balancing the following organs and systems:
- The Liver ensures the smooth flow of energy (Qi) throughout our bodies, thus reducing any stagnation and associated pain. Qi also helps move the blood and body fluids, both implicated in swelling.
- The Gall Bladder “controls the tendons” in TCM, so can be very much involved in muscular tension of all kinds.
- The Spleen “dominates the muscles and the four limbs” and needs to be worked with whenever there is a fluid accumulation or swelling.
Appropriate TCM treatments:
Acupressure - ✅
Acupuncture - ✅
Chinese herbs - ✅
Cupping - ✅
Dietary/Lifestyle advice - ✅
Moxa/Heat lamp - ✅
Qi Gong - ✅
Tuina (meridian massage) - ✅
Number of treatments required - 5-10, depending on the severity of symptoms/duration of disease. Additional maintenance/top-up treatments may be advised.
Frequency of treatments - 1-2 times a week, depending on the severity of symptoms.