Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2015
Written by  Courtney Cowie, MA, LMBT

Who is treating your low back pain?

If your answer to the above question is, “my doctor,” you are one amongst millions of Americans who see their regular physician for this common complaint. Low back pain is the No. 2 reason for a trip to the doctor’s office in the U.S. — and I am not talking about a doctor of chiropractic.

Now, let me ask you another question: Do you want to reduce, if not eliminate, your low back pain? From a bone and soft tissue (structural) correction standpoint, there are few noninvasive options a medical doctor can offer for resolving low back pain. What’s more, the types of pain medication that are commonly offered up in traditional clinical settings, while masking the pain, do not address the root cause of the pain.

Low back pain has a number of causes. Some of the most common ones are muscle strain or injury, pressure on or pinching of a nerve, and degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease. Both muscle strain and pressure on the spinal cord due to a degenerative condition like arthritis will usually feel like a dull, constant ache at a localized area in the low back. Pain that results from a pinched nerve or muscle spasm usually manifests as a sudden and sharp pain that can sometimes radiate down the backs of the legs.

In Chinese medicine, low back pain is usually associated with cold penetrating the meridians that pass through the low back and sacrum, qi and blood stagnation, or kidney qi deficiency. Acute, sharp pain with a sudden onset that causes stiffness and limited range-of-motion is considered a cold condition and can be successfully treated with therapeutic bodywork techniques that warm the tissue and meridians, such as scrubbing over the low back and administering moxibustion.

Sharp pain that radiates down the backs of the legs, such as the type of pain felt when the piriformis compresses the sciatic nerve, can be treated by applying steady, firm pressure to a local acupressure point, such as Gallbladder 30. This gets stuck qi moving at the area of nerve compression, relieving the pain.

A chronic, dull ache in the low back, which is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of cold at the extremities or locally in the low back, is best treated by tonifying kidney qi by applying acupressure at a series of local and distal points.

The advantage of working with a holistic pain-management practitioner trained in Chinese medicine is the ability to receive a comprehensive evaluation that takes into account a plethora of factors surrounding the nature of the pain, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors unique to the individual that may impact his or her pain. The treatment plan is tailored to the individual, creating a customized strategy for yielding the best possible outcome.

Courtney Cowie, MA, LMBT, is the owner of Ki to Health Therapeutic Bodywork, located at 404 N. Main St., Suite 505 in Oshkosh. Her practice is rooted in traditional Chinese medical massage (tui na) techniques integrated with acupressure. To learn more about the conditions Courtney treats as well as her techniques and background, visit To schedule an appointment, call 920-460-0229 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article was originally published on the Ki to Health Therapeutic Bodywork blog:

References: “Six Climatic Factors.” TCM Wiki.

“Qi.” TCM Wiki.

“Shaoyin Kidney Meridian of Foot.” TCM Wiki.

“GB30.” TCM Wiki.

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