Back Pain – Lumbar disc herniation


The case is a 58 year old retired marine officer. He specializes in catching illegal smugglers across Hong Kong’s marine borders, therefore, he had numerous injuries to his back due to sailing in high speed boats. After decades, his exciting career has left him a somewhat permanent mark in forms of chronic back pain. He sought medical attention for two years due to neck and back pain, sometimes the whole leg would become numb. After an MRI scan, he was diagnosed with lumbar disc herniation – his tissues have deteriorated from neck to waist requiring surgery. The patient is terrified of surgery so a friend recommended him to come to SYT Wellness for acupuncture. When we first saw him, he was very irritated, full of throbbing pain and have thought of committing suicide. His wife has been his primary social support who had accompanied him to seek treatment everywhere.

The patient not only experienced back from neck to waist down, he also has depression and anxiety disorders. Please note, 71% of Hong Kong patient suffering from chronic pain also experience mental health problems, 38% of them had disrupted work schedules. To treat his depression and anxiety disorders, first we had to treat his pain symptoms which is the main culprit. After initial diagnosis, we devised a tailored treatment plan, I told the patient “if you don’t want surgery, we can treat you with acupuncture in addition to tuina massage therapy and spinal manipulation, which is the best course of treatment for you, we specialize in providing an alternative to surgery as the only option”. After a few treatments, the patient had recovered quite a bit, he has been incredibly cooperative, he added swimming in his recovery schedule and often apply heat compression to the painful areas, he had recovered in due course. I advised the patient to find a part time job or volunteer to best channel his energy instead of sitting around, retirement age IS the golden age.

Tailored treatment plan:

1. Tuina massage therapy: professional methodology to relax the stiffen waist and hip muscles
2. Spinal manipulation: remove displaced joint and hip, lessen painful effect to the nerves
3. Acupuncture: use the meridian points in waist and hip, improve qi and blood circulation flow in the area to hasten recovery and reduce inflammation
4. Chinese herbal medicine: improve qi flow and improve circulation and balance, reduce dampness energy by improving liver and stomach energies

Warm reminder:

Lumbar disc herniation could exacerbate if not treated early – the chondyle joint can stiffen affecting urination and stool movements, muscle wasting could affect movement. Appearance of these symptoms require absolute surgical treatment. Prior to these symptoms’ manifestations, it could be treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as an alternative, patients could apply heat compression themselves and avoid eating spicy food, alcohol, deep fried food. Swimming or taking a dip in the pool is highly recommended, the lowered pressure of water can relieve some pain symptoms.

Keep your body warm. Symptoms may worsen when it’s raining or when the weather is moist and humid. Patient is sensitive to cold weather. If the body becomes swollen, try to rest more and avoid impact to the back. Avoid any weight training or jumping movements. Avoid laying in soft couches or mattress with too much softness because they can’t provide enough supporting forces to your back,. When working, wears protective ergonomics gears in the waist. If patient is diligent in her/his journey to recovery. Acupuncture can transmit signals to the brain to increase production of endogenous cannabinoid to reduce pain, stimulate immune cells to speed up healing processes in the herniated areas, prevent its compression on the nerves, so it’s an excellent multi-pronged, side-effect free treatment modality. If you are scared of pain from acupuncture needles, choose a good acupuncturists (like the ones at SYT Wellness) with high standard who can treat the pain without the pain.