Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, for sudden & acute circumstances such as kidney stones, trauma or even a fractured vertebrae – immediate care may be required; information provided here is only suitable for those who have been cleared of any specific diagnosis and need to care for their condition unsupervised at home.
In Chinese Medicine terms, typically back pain is a result of one or more of the following:
- Traumatic injury
- Over use of a specific muscle group
- Posture / scoliosis
- Sitting / driving for extended periods
- Fractures, herniations or degenerative changes
- Side effects of medications
Chinese Medicine (CM) involves identifying locations, channels, triggers of pain and conditions, which alleviate it. CM diagnosis will often include:
- Qi and Blood Stagnation
- Yin / Yang deficiency
- Cold Damp Painful Obstruction
- Bi Syndrome
Regardless of the specifics of diagnosis, CM considers that stagnation (poor circulation) is the cause of pain and by eliminating stagnation, healing is promoted – relieving the pain.
Acupuncture and prescribed herbal medications will assist to increase circulation to aid healing, however the healing process can be hindered through habitual actions such as sleeping on your sides or stomach, which can restrict circulation causing stagnation to reoccur.
Changing your sleep patterns can be very beneficial, however it is acknowledged that this is not an easy task. By making small changes on a regular basis however, you should be able to initiate the healing process.
So What Do I Need To Do?
It’s easy, all I ask you to do is to take your pillow from the top of the bed and relocate it under your knees for 10 minutes when you go to bed! At first you might find a strange feeling in your sinuses, but this is also beneficial!
Take some deep breaths and relax in this position, if you need a small hand towel rolled up under your neck that is fine. Allow yourself to fall asleep if you are comfortable, if not you are free to readjust to the normal sleeping position after 10 minutes!
Should you wake during the night to go to the toilet, use the opportunity to put the pillow under your knees again, just for five minutes. If you wake with an alarm on snooze in the morning, also use this opportunity again to lie on your back and put the pillow under your knees.
Of course it will take some adjustment and pain will dissipate with practice. By assuming this pose on the comfort of a mattress you are allowing the force of gravity to work in your favor and naturally alleviate stagnation. Other sleeping positions although they may feel comfortable, can reduce circulation to the extremities and the spinal cord due to your body weight compressing muscles, nerves, lymph and blood flow.
It is understandable that you probably cannot maintain sleeping on your back all of the time, however if you are able to practice this method it should be enough together with your Chinese Medicine treatment to give you the advantage moving forward to improve back pain.
If you have a spare pillow, some people also find it advantageous to use the pillow between their legs at times when they choose to roll over onto their sides after the initial instructions. The extra pillow will work in a manner to soften the obstruction caused by the weight of limb on limb.
© Root & Branch Oriental Therapies (2015).