One of the most common conditions I see in my clinic is lower back pain. Whatever the direct cause is, I find that patients recover much faster if I address the underlying conditions as well. The most common underlying condition in this case is exhaustion. Normally, when you hear the word “exhaustion”, I am sure you picture someone who is just “tired”. If this is the case, I want you to try to enter the mind of an acupuncturist and be eloquent in “Chinglish” (loosely translated Eastern Medicine jargon). In Chinglish, exhaustion entails much more than the eye can see.
When I think about the factors that cause exhaustion, the first things that come to my mind are pollution and unsafe foods. They are recent experiences in the history of mankind, and the potential dangers are still unknown. From a physiological point of view, I can’t imagine how much energy we are wasting just to detoxify our cells on a daily basis. The next factor is my favorite: stress. Our work environment is different from ten years ago. We need to be competitive with cheap labor forces elsewhere. The recession forces us to hang on to our current job even though we think our bosses are utter invalids. You may not admit that you are stressed, but the concerns, the feelings of oppression and claustrophobia definitely cause imbalance in our autonomic nervous system.
As you might have noticed, these things are “side effects” of global economy. Since we can’t go back in time, we have to deal with them. I am sure people in the past were as stressed as we are, but the difference is that we seem to have less wiggle room. Our lives are much more fast-paced, and we are bombarded with stressors from all aspects of life simultaneously. In a world such as this, we live in a constant state of fight or flight.
In the state of fight or flight, our bodies respond to stressors by producing adrenalin. It is good short term, but when the condition prolongs, it disturbs the healthy hormonal balance. The first physical sign of adrenal exhaustion is lower back pain. (Incidentally, the Adrenal Glands are located near common acupuncture points used for lower back pain.) Also, I have treated neck and shoulder pain, spinal pain, allergic rhinitis, chest pain that mimics a heart attack, and insomnia as adrenal exhaustion. They all fall into the category of exhaustion.