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Case Studies

chief complaint: low back pain

A 34 year old woman electronics technician, healthy and active, complained of low back pain for 5 months. She had been out of work for 5 months when she came for acupuncture care. There was no known injury or prior history of back pain. The pain was on and adjacent to her sacrum, worse on the left side. She described it as a constant, dull ache, at times burning, better with moist heat and rest. The pain interfered with sleep after 5 hours and prohibited most housework and tasks like lifting groceries. She rated her pain as generally 8/10 on a pain scale from 0-10 where 0 represents no pain at all and 10 represents the worst pain imaginable. She had been treated by a chiropractor 3 times per week since the problem began, which helped for a few hours. Her MRI was normal. There was no disc abnormality. She was also tired, had no appetite, and reported a cough with clear phlegm.

From the perspective of Oriental Medicine, this was a condition of Qi stasis, which responded quickly to treatment. Our goal for her was return to work after 6-10 sessions with 75% pain relief.

The patient had significant pain relief that lasted 2 days after her 1st session. After her 2nd session, pain relief lasted 1 week. Her energy and appetite were better. Her cough cleared up. She was able to return to work half time after 3 sessions with good pain relief. After 4 sessions, she only had slight pain on one side, about 2/10, so she returned to work full time. With her increased activity, the pain returned to a level of 5/10, but it was quickly resolved again by her 5th and final treatment. Acupuncture techniques used included needling, moxabustion, cupping, and magnets. Treatment cost was about $260.

text copyright @2001 by
Meredith St. John
Boston, MA