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Pain | Manage Back Pain with an Ancient Chinese Cure | Health | Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Manage Back Pain with an Ancient Chinese Cure

If your back aches more often than not, you're certainly not alone. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer with chronic (persistent) pain. Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans younger than 45, and chronic pain prevents two out of three older Americans from engaging in routine activities including gardening or housework.

Fortunately, the field of Chinese medicine offers new solutions for this prevalent problem. A study published on February 18, 2006, in BMJ (formerly called British Medical Journal), provides proof of Chinese medicine's effectiveness for back pain relief. The study tracked 129 people with chronic back pain who were administered either acupressure or physical therapy for one month. The results showed that acupressure is more effective than physical therapy for relieving back pain. In fact, acupressure reduced disability by 89 percent. Best of all, the benefit was sustained for six months.

Acupressure works according to the same principles as acupuncture (without the needles) and involves placing physical pressure by hand, elbow, or with various devices, on various acupuncture points.

Patients at Bastyr Center for Natural Health can receive acupuncture, acupressure or tui na (a form of Chinese massage) to help ease their pain. Tui na is a common and effective treatment similar to acupressure but with a greater scope. It involves placing pressure on three different general areas: on the acupuncture points, the energy meridians as well as on muscles and joints themselves.

Benjamin Apichai, MS, MD (China), LAc, a supervising faculty member at Bastyr Center for Natural Health who was trained in China, explains that tui na is a required course for all acupuncture and Oriental medicine students at Bastyr. “Tui na is new to the United States,” he says, “but it's been around for thousands of years. Japanese massage (shiatsu, ammo) and Korean massage (amma) all came from Chinese massage.”

The best thing about tui na, says Apichai, is that it can address emergency-room situations, but it doesn't require any special equipment. “You can do it anytime, anywhere,” he says. “You use your finger, palm, elbow, knees, and feet.”

He explains that, in China, tui na practitioners can even walk on patients' backs while holding onto a bar on the ceiling. Apichai says best of all the results can last for 15-20 years, and there are no side effects.

To try a new tactic for addressing your pains, try tui na. Call (206) 834-4100 for an appointment for more information about Chinese medicine.

Author: Sydney Maupin, staff writer
Date: July 2005

Sources: Benjamin Apichai, MS, MD (China),LAc;; Medscape Medical News; American Academy of Pain Management;

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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.


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