Recently, I had a regular wellness patient ask me this question: “Why the heck is my back weak?”
That is a really good question–but not such an easy answer if you are thinking in terms of TCM theory. According to TCM there are multiple reasons including Kidney Qi Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Blood Stagnation in the Urinary Bladder or Gallbladder channels, a Dai Mai Imbalance, problems with the Ren or Du channels, etc.
I remember the days when I used to explain TCM pattern diagnosis to a patient without any graphics. A lot of my time was spent trying to explain abstract theories and concepts. I’m sure glad those days are over… My life as a patient educator is so much easier now that I have AcuGraph!
Let’s talk about why this patient’s back was weak.
A Case Study
Here is his Baseline graph.
At first glance, you can see that his Bladder channel is weak because the graph is blue, indicating a deficiency in the channel. He is a fairly young guy. He doesn’t have low back pain because of a weakness in his kidney. I don’t think he has blood stagnation in the Urinary Bladder channel either. Typically, if he had back pain because of blood stagnation, the Urinary Bladder channel would be excess.
Let’s change the graph view to Energy Cycle. This shows how energy is supposed to flow from channel to channel–from the Lung all the way through to the Liver and then back again.
Let your eyes stop at the Small Intestine channel for a moment…
In relation to his back pain, there is a really simple explanation to see in this graph. Notice how the Small Intestine Channel is excess and then the Urinary Bladder channel is deficient right after it? Energy is obviously stuck in the Small Intestine channel and now flowing into the next channel. Call it Blood Stagnation, Qi Stagnation, Qi Deficiency or whatever you want–it’s really easy to show the patient that energy is simply STUCK…
Next, I clicked on the Small Intestine Channel to show the patient how tension in his shoulder could cause a weakness in his back.
In AcuGraph 4, you will see the the channel pathway. Simply click on the Small Intestine channel in the graph and a picture of the channel pathway will appear. If you have upgraded to AcuGraph 5, you will ALSO be able see the Musculoskeletal pathway and the internal pathways of each channel. (I love this! Looking at musculoskeletal and internal pathways brings a whole new dimension to my diagnostic skills.)
When I clicked on the musculoskeletal pathway, my patient just shook his head and said:
“Of course… That makes perfect sense. I’ve have shoulder pain for the last couple of weeks.”
He then asked:
“So, if you fix my shoulder pain, then my back will be stronger?”
My answer was of course:
Next, I clicked on the internal pathways and told him that if he kept imbalances in the shoulder long term, he could also have problems in the areas that are red. He shook his head AGAIN and replied:
“I guess the fact that my stomach has been bothering me and I’ve been having pain in my leg makes perfect sense…”
AGAIN my answer was:
Finally, the patient said:
“I’m so glad I have you. You always know all the answers to what is going on in my body.
Then we began treatment.
I used my knowledge from AcuGraph, TCM, Sports Medicine Training, Massage Therapy, etc.
My first goal is always to balance the graph. I decided to do that via the back shu points with this treatment.
In AcuGraph 5, I clicked a button and put all the points to balance the graph via the back shu points into the notes. It looked like this.
Next, I did a little cupping and a typical shoulder point treatment which included ashi points. Everyone has a different approach. Some of my favorite basic shoulder points are: SI 11, GB 21, LI 10, TE 15, LI 15 and ashi points.
Happy patient. His back pain was gone and so was his shoulder pain. We booked him for a tune-up in 30 days.
AcuGraph is amazing for patient education. It also helps acupuncturists to gain an added dimension of perspective to their treatment.
Patients love it. Practitioners love it. It just makes sense.
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Research Analyst