February 24, 2015

Back, Neck and Muscle pain, can Acupuncture help?

Back, Neck and Muscle pain, can Acupuncture help?


Reported on the BBC – The UK economy is slowly recovering, but the country’s workforce is in considerable pain. See the full article here

In this report the BBC state that Almost 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the the ONS’s Labour Force Survey, found that musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which include a large range of bone, joint and muscle complaints, accounted for more prolonged absences than any other ailment!

Although the United Kingdom’s workforce, along with other countries  that have lost or given up their manufacturing base, has largely swapped heavy manual labour for sitting in offices. MSKs have been the primary cause of absenteeism for the past five years, and we in the UK have one of the highest rates in Europe.  The Work Foundation estimates that employees suffering from bone, joint and/or muscle pain cost the EU’s economies 240bn euros (£200bn) each year.  So why have MSK complaints persisted?

“Sitting is the new smoking,” explains Prof Steve Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation.”The more sedentary you are the worse it is for your health.”

Early detection

Once symptoms do occur, we in the UK are slow to react. A two-year trial in Madrid showed that by assessing and treating 13,000 workers with MSKs who had been off for five days or more, their temporary work absence was reduced by 39% in the long term.  The Work Foundation estimates that more than 60,000 Britons would be available for work if the Madrid tactics were replicated in the UK.

However, even the more careful among us are at risk of MSKs, and the workplace may have little to do with it.

“People forget how common musculoskeletal problems are,” Prof Anthony Woolf, a rheumatologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. 

Indeed, alarm bells have been ringing for some time over the impact of musculoskeletal diseases.  In 2000, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan launched the Bone and Joint Decade at the World Health Organization in Switzerland, an initiative designed to reduce the number of MSKs around the globe.  Not much has changed since. A study by medical journal The Lancet,  Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 – published in 2012, found that musculoskeletal conditions were the second greatest cause of disability in the world, affecting over 1.7 billion people worldwide.

How can Acupuncture help?

MSK pain is generally seens as Qi/Xua Stagnation or Bi Syndrome which may be due to Injury/Trauma, Pathogenic Qi Invasion or disease within the ZangFu, all of which probably makes no sense to anyone not trained in Chinese Medicen so here is a quick overview:

Qi/Xua Stagnation – The rough translation here is Energy (Qi or Yang)/Blood (Xua or Yin) stagnation which basically means something has happened to stop the normal flow of the essential Qi and or Blood in an area of the body and is generally caused by injury/trauma.  This stagnation can lead to many different types of pain in any area of the body and if untreated can lead to disease within the ZangFu (Yin/Yang Organs) due to the impairment of natural energy flow.

Bi Syndrome – Painful Obstruction is a very difficult subject in Asian Medicine as it can cover any part of the body and is generally, but not always, connected with a pathogenic invasion of Qi (which in its self is a difficult concept for the western mind), but normally will have some of the following associated:

  • Invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp or Wind, Heat and Damp in the Meridians
  • Weakness of the body due to Yang Deficiency
  • Qi and Blood Deficiencies due to childbirth or long term illness causing Wei Qi Deficiency
  • Overstraining, hence weakening the body
  • A Yang excess constitution, a Yin Deficient constitution or long standing Wind-Cold-Damp, stagnation may turn into Heat Bi

Disease within the ZangFu – ZangFu translates as Yin/Yang Organs within the body.  If the ZangFu are diseased then then the energy within the meridians will not flow correctly and this may lead to Qi/Xua stagnation and hence pain.

With all the above I would used a combination of Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Tui Na Massage or Acupressure and Qi Gong exercise, depending on the exact diagnosis I may use Fire Cupping and I would hope to see improvement in 4 to 6 sessions.

Here are some fact sheets related to MSK conditions:

Its also worth noting that you can have treatment and continue with your pain medication until such time as you agree with your Doctor that you can reduce or stop however you should always tell your Acupuncturist all the medication you are taking.

If you would like to speak to me or arrange an appointment please contact me