Back Pain according to Chinese Medicine
by Warwick Poon
In the Zang Fu system, back pain is generally considered a Kidney deficiency in Chinese Medicine. Firstly, the Large Intestine can be nominated as a source of the trouble, as it has the job of feeding energy into the Kidneys. Secondly, it can sometimes start with insomnia, which is going to drain the Kidney energy, leading to Kidney deficiency. If the Kidneys are deficient enough in energy, then lifting something too heavy, or the wrong way can put more strain on the back than the amount of Kidney energy can deal with, and pain will be the outcome.
Another way that we can explain back pain is to use the meridian system. We understand that the meridians supply the energy to the muscles, tendons and bones that surround them. When a particular meridian is low in energy it is supplying less energy to the surrounding tissues, and they therefore cannot function as well as they should. The two major meridians that deal with the lower back are the Du or "Governor" meridian, which goes from the tailbone to the top of the head and the Bladder meridian, which runs down either side of the spine . The Liver and Gall Bladder meridians can also effect the lower back to a lesser degree. One of the most common problems with the back can be the Bladder divergent meridian, which diverges from the main meridian at the neck, and goes deep inside, through the spine area, and then rejoins the normal meridian at the back of the knees.
Sleep builds Kidney energy. If you have experienced a bad night of sleep, or been working through the wee hours, then the next day you will be more susceptible to a lower back strain so you will need to be more careful about lifting heavy objects. It's not uncommon after a bad night to get up and hurt your back simply by getting up the wrong way or twisting in bed the wrong way. The Large Intestine also feeds the Kidney energy. If you are constipated, then also beware of the strain on the lower back.
And finally, beware of the cold. Cold is an entity in Chinese thought, and it tends to make the body, and the body parts shrink, and tighten up. This will have the effect of making the meridians' diameter smaller, and allow less energy to pass through them. So, when the back is exposed to cold, it will naturally be less able to cope with whatever work is assigned to it, simply because it has less energy flow to apply to it. If you have a delicate back, keep it warm and away from draughts.