Case Study: Acupuncture for Chronic Low-Back Pain
A 53 year-old woman had been experiencing low back pain for most of her life, especially on her left side, but sometimes also on the right. She believed that it started after she had had a serious bout of pneumonia, and had been hospitalized for seven days at the age of 8. She felt that the hospital stay at a young age had somehow affected her back, or that perhaps the virus had in some way caused the injury. During her stay, she had coughed extensively, and believed that she may have injured herself by coughing so vigorously. Since that time, she occasionally felt back pain when sick with a cough. The pneumonia never reappeared.
She also frequently felt that her right knee was weak, such that it could collapse at any moment, and she would have to stop walking and/or sit immediately. Medical tests revealed no abnormalities in either her back or her knee.
The patient also complained of frequent urination, and had to get up at least twice per night. Generally she was quite fatigued, depressed, and had some low-pitched tinnitus in both ears. The fatigue and depression she had experienced since childhood, but the tinnitus was only approximately 2 years in duration.
Her tongue was pale and slightly swollen, and her pulse was deep, and quite weak, especially on the Kidney positions.
Diagnosis: Her back ache likely stemmed from Kidney Yang deficiency. This deficiency probably came about because of a hospitalization at a young age, which either depleted her Yang essence from the virus, or poor physical position in the hospital bed caused Qi and Blood stagnation which eventually led to Kidney deficiency.
Treatment Principle: Tonify the Kidney Yang in an effort to relieve the patient of her pain, and hopefully to also strengthen her knee, plus resolve the tinnitus which had not yet had much time to develop.
Acupuncture Points: BL 23, BL 25, BL 26, BL 60, SP 6, ST 36, KD 3, KD 6, KD 9
The patient's back ache was relieved after only a few sessions (once per week for four weeks). She reported that the tinnitus also seemed to dissipate, but did not go away completely. She said that her energy level seemed to be much better, and her knee did not feel as weak. Because her back pain was gone, she discontinued treatment before the tinnitus and knee weakness could be completely resolved.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner
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