When pain comes unexpectedly and takes away our ability to function, we seek a health professional. After seeing a physician to determine the cause of the pain, submitting to appropriate tests and the doctor saying that everything is fine, we get a prescription that it may lead us to another problem, like side effects. When we don’t want to accept the risk of side effects, it’s time to try Oriental medicine and other alternative modalities like acupuncture.

Physical pain is very common among Americans. A 2007 study from Pain Magazine found that the incidence rate of pain was of 26.2 per 100,00 persons a year, with a women to men ratio of three to two, with the highest incidence occurring in women aged 60 to 70 years old.

Sometimes a pain is due to an injury but sometimes there seems to be no cause at all. Oriental medicine says that the pain is due to Qi and blood stagnation, signifying that damage has been done to a particular area of the body. When the Qi in our bodies becomes stagnant, the result is pain.

Oriental medicine believes that pain can be caused by a full condition. For example, when a person has a pain in his toe without being injured and has been accustomed to eating a lot of red meat throughout his life, it is the accumulation of toxins that is causing him to have pain—the skin is bright red, swollen and painful to touch. In Western medicine, this condition tends to be considered the result of an infection but in Oriental medicine the condition is likely to be considered an excess of heat that is invading the toe area.

A deficiency condition can be related to a person who has back and/or knee pain due to overexertion or overworking the body over a lifetime. This pain is a constant, dull pain with feelings of heaviness and morning stiffness. Usually these people experience the pain in the same area for years. It develops in the evening and is sometimes relieved by resting and sleeping. Other times, the pain doesn’t let the person rest and can be accompanied by weakness in the knees, tinnitus, dizziness, night sweats, fatigue and more.

Oriental medicine also has some other theories of the causes of pain—invasions of environment elements like wind, coldness, heat, dampness—as part of full conditions.

During an invasion of coldness, the pain would feel sharp and be hard to withstand. It comes unexpectedly without any injury or trauma, the area is neither red nor hot and when heat is applied to the area it feels good and the pain dissipates. Examples of this kind of pain are the back pain people experience when working outside in the cold, a stabbing pain around the epigastria area (upper abdomen) when consuming ice during a meal and pain during menses.

When a pain travels around beginning, for example, in a knee but then fades and manifests itself in the toe or the elbow or the hip, it said that a wind invasion is present. But this wind is usually accompanied by coldness, dampness or both, causing the person to have different kinds of symptoms like sharp or dull pain, depending on the cold or damp invasion. These symptoms of pain can come from the environment or from our not-so-healthy diets and lifestyles, leaving us in pain.

Sometimes a pain is dull, persistent and stagnant with no signs of heat or redness and even though we’ve taken a painkiller, when the effect of the medicine wears off, the pain comes back. This pain could be related to damp invasion. An example of this kind of pain is when the body is full of toxins that remain in muscles and/or joints, causing pain in and swelling of the affected areas.

Oriental medicine, with different modalities like acupuncture, nutrition, herbal consultation, cupping, washa, tuina, or Asian body works, can help us deal with those pains that take away our enjoyment of life in a more natural way. Oriental medicine is the oldest medicine and is excellent at helping the pain of sport injuries and any pain that prevents us from living a healthy lifestyle.

by Consuelo Camarillo de Gonzalez Lic. A.C.