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Seasonal Change and Back Pain

As the air starts to cool and the sun begins to fade with entrance of autumn, many people begin to experience a flare up in back pain symptoms. Back pain is a very common problem; one that will strike four out of five Americans at some time in their lives. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons people seek medical care. Unfortunately, back pain isn’t always easy to diagnose or relieve. Low back pain in particular can become a chronic, or ongoing, problem.


Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are very effective in treating back pain and helping keep your body in tune with the seasonal shift. They can also be used together with traditional Western treatments to maximize your healing and recovery.

There are many possible causes for back pain, including strained muscles or ligaments, often caused by improper lifting, sudden movements or traumatic injury. Other culprits include arthritis (whose symptoms can be exacerbated with the onset of cold damp weather), structural abnormalities of the spine, or when the disks between the vertebrae bulge or rupture and press on a nerve.

Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM view back pain another way. An acupuncturist will not only work to relieve your symptoms, but will also work to find and treat the underlying cause of your pain.

Back pain can arise from disharmonies such as:

  • Stagnation type pain
  • Cold, damp obstruction type pain
  • Deficiency type pain

Once I have determined the cause(s) of your back pain, I can create a specific treatment plan designed to address your concerns and boost your overall health and vitality.

Transitioning to Autumn

With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.

The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.

Autumn Foods: Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.

Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.

Vegetables to cook with:

  • Carrots
  • Winter squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Turnip greens

Sour/pungent foods to cook with:

  • Sourdough bread
  • Sauerkraut
  • Adzuki beans
  • Yogurt
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

Some find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.

Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!

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