“Ouch” No More: The Natural, Advanced, Total (NAT) Approach to Managing Back Pain
May 31, 2017 01:41PM
by Rene Ng, AP, L.Ac.
In my clinic, I can honestly say that at least 75%, if not more, of the patients I see on a daily basis present with some form of back pain. This is usually of a chronic nature that persists throughout the day and has been recurring for a long time.
Many of these patients simply shrug their shoulders and claim, “I’m just getting old,” assuming feel they can do nothing about this issue. Some try cortisone, epidural or other forms of analgesic injections to ease the pain. Some opt for surgery, and some seek out chiropractic care. Still others grasp at almost anything to reduce the pain or discomfort. Then, there are those people who are resigned to just living with the pain.
This is true for all kinds of back pain––whether from trauma, injury, aging-related degeneration or a specific illness. However, before you simply disregard the issue, let’s consider another powerful option which I call “the Natural, Advanced and Total (NAT)” approach to managing back pain.
The NAT Approach to Healing Back Pain
The human body can basically be broken up into three different components:
The Skeletal System
The bones make up this system and form the basic foundational structure of our bodies. The bones provide protection for the organs, to house marrow which is our main source of blood formation, and to store minerals such as calcium.
The Muscle and Soft Tissue System
This system covers the bones and surrounds the joints to help enable movement in the body.
The Organ Systems
The organs are responsible for all the various functions within our bodies. They are essential for the human body to operate and remain alive.
These three components constantly interface and work alongside one another. What affects one component will also effect the others––either immediately or over time. For example, if you fractured your right ankle, this issue would also begin to affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues surrounding it.
In order for the ankle and its surrounding, supporting soft tissues and ligaments to heal, a healthy circulatory system is required to bring rich, healing blood to the area. If this is not possible, then healing the injury will be a slow and difficult process. Therefore, to correctly address the injured ankle and its surrounding tissue, the other components need to function optimally. The NAT approach includes utilization of multiple modalities at the same time, depending on the individual situation and cause of the pain. The various therapy types include the following:
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
In order for the body to direct healing blood to the injured area, the organ functions need to work properly. Chinese Medicine, herbs and acupuncture are used to determine the current health state of the body, identify areas of imbalance, and administer treatments that would help the body to optimize circulation, attain homeostasis, and assist with healing the soft tissues, ligaments and muscles. In addition, these modalities also strengthen the organ systems to enhance bone density, promote bone and soft tissue health, alleviate swelling and bruising, eliminate pain and enhance the healing process. They are also used to address side-effects that might be caused by simultaneously used allied therapies such as chiropractic.
In a significant percentage of back pain situations, the spinal column is misaligned. This can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from a traumatic incident to disk degeneration, along with other causes. This misalignment impedes the smooth flow of Qi (the body’s essential life energy) and blood along the spinal column––both to the brain and other parts of the body.
In cases of disk degeneration, scoliosis, stenosis and similar issues, the muscular structure around the impaired area also becomes affected, causing tenderness, strains, tightness, spasms and pain. In numerous cases, the re-alignment and straightening of the spinal column goes a long way toward remedying this. Also, in dermatomes, pain and tenderness that exist on certain parts of the body are oftentimes “referred pain,” directly attributed to issues in the spinal column that correlate to the pain’s location. Chiropractic therapy can also address those issues.
Physical Rehabilitation and Therapy
Depending on how long a pain condition has persisted, the individual might think an issue still exists, even if that area has healed. In these cases, some form of physical therapy is needed to re-condition the weakened muscle and re-program the memory to understand that affected muscles no longer need to underperform as a means of “protecting” the injured area. Slow, repetitive motions are generally more effective in reconditioning the injured muscles versus the heavyweight, hard-impact exercises which are better for body building.
Specialized massage therapy such as Chinese DitDa and TuiNa can help the tendons, muscles and ligaments to heal faster through direct manipulation of the injured area. Herbs are also topically applied to the injured area to help with tissue healing, elimination of bruises and swelling, pain management and infection elimination.
In addition, deep tissue circulatory massage applied directly to the injured or pained area is important for directing blood to that area to facilitate healing. Cranial sacral lymphatic drainage massage is also suggested because the lymph nodes near the injured area can be energetically clogged. If this is not released, then healing can slow down or even become non-existent. Lymphatic drainage massage can help to clear the congestion in these nodes.
The right types of food and beverages help to expedite the healing process. When you visit a holistic healthcare practitioner like an Acupuncturist or a Chiropractor, you will likely be advised on the types of foods that will be most beneficial, based on your individual constitution and health condition. However, if you are not offered this option, then take the initiative and perform research on your own, as nutrition will play a significant role in whether your pain heals, persists or even worsens over time.
Due to technological advancements in medicine, an option is available for the individual to temporarily and quickly ease the pain. This is achieved through injections. Traditional injections such as cortisone and epidural shots help to temporarily alleviate symptoms, using industry-standard pain-relief injections.
Alternatively, AcuPoint Injections, in which homeopathic herbs such as Traumeel, can be injected into acupuncture points to help alleviate the pain quickly without the side-effects of medical drugs. Both these types of injections provide an option to help ease the suffering from the pain, while the other means described area target the pain’s root cause to address it with more permanent solutions.
In summary, a comprehensive, integrative treatment plan that combines multiple types of therapies to simultaneously address all three components of the body will effectively reduce or even eliminate the pain––especially in the neck, back and hips. If you have not considered the NAT option, I highly recommend you investigate it. This method could make a tremendous impact on the quality of your life.
Rene Ng, AP, L.Ac., is a board-certified, licensed Acupuncture Physician and Chinese Herbalist in Sarasota. He is also a four-time winner of Sarasota’s “Favorite Acupuncture Physician” award. For more information, call 941-773-5156, email [email protected]om or visit ChineseMedicalSoultuions.com.