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Manage pain through TCM

PHOTO: EU YAN SANG
PHOTO: EU YAN SANG
PHOTO: EU YAN SANG

TCM may offer a solution to pain relief

There is no denying that technology is driving our daily lives. People of all ages are permanently tethered to their electronics - to our desktop at work, and our smart devices everywhere else.

As the Chinese saying goes: "The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows it up.”

As beneficial as modern electronic devices are to modern life, spending long hours at your desk with a bad sitting posture may bring upon its own set of health problems.

Workplace injuries

For many people, the modern workplace is where the neck and shoulder problems develop. Office workers usually spend more than eight hours a day in the office, sitting in front of the computers in the same position for a long time. In addition, many office workers have poor posture, tending to slump their shoulders inward as they sit and type, their heads in an awkward position.

According to an article by The Straits Time titled "Pain in the neck" published on Feb 6, 2014, the number of people reporting neck, shoulder, wrist and finger pain resulting from use of mobile devices is on the rise; affecting up to 10 per cent of the population.

Adding on to the stress

Our head weighs an average of about 4kg. When it is tilted forward by just 3cm - such as when we are looking at our computer screen - the weight is doubled. And the stress increases the further your head tilts forward.

Some studies have shown that emotional stress may contribute to neck pains too. Constant stress may trigger the body's flight-or-fight response, which may cause constant muscle spasm, leading to pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

Pain relief, the TCM way

There are many studies using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for pain relief, and the results have been promising.

Even the World Health Organisation has also recognised that acupuncture has been proven, through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment for pain management.

TCM goes beyond just prescribing Chinese herbs to take at home. At its core, it takes a holistic approach to lifestyle modification to manage diseases and conditions.

The objective is to focus on the individual's self-recovery abilities through the use of treatment methods that are supplementary measures to accelerate this process.

According to TCM, pain is associated with three pathogenic factors:

  • Cold (cold contracts which cause muscle stiffness and knots),
  • Dampness (swelling & soreness) and
  • Deficiency (degenerative changes).

To properly prescribe the right treatment for pain relief, it is crucial for your TCM physician to find which of the following factors contributes to pain.

Treatment options

Physician Lee Jin Shun, from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic (Hougang Mall & Bedok) and Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinic (Plaza Singapura), says: "A TCM physician collects medical history and data through its four Diagnostic Principles (inspection, olfactory/listen, inquiry and palpation) in order to determine the diagnosis.

"This will allow the physician to formulate a treatment plan that is customised for the patient."

It is advisable for patients to bring along any examination reports or inform your TCM physician of any pre-existing treatment you are on. Then, the appropriate course of treatment plan is given. 

He adds: "This may come in the form of oral herbal medication, topical plaster, cupping, acupuncture or Tuina (therapeutic massage). The objective is to expel 'cold' (relaxes muscle, improve circulation) and 'dampness' (reduce swelling), and to nourish the deficiency (strengthening of structures)."

Oral herbs medication, according to Physician Lee, can help to promote smooth circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation, and to support tissue recovery.

Acupuncture, the insertion of hair-like needles into specific acupoints along the meridians (channels), may help too.

"Cupping and Tuina have similar properties and your physician will advise depending on the severity and type of condition. In addition, these treatments and prescription work synergistically by unclogging the obstructed meridians and allow the herbs to permeate and take its effect, with the aim of reducing pain," he adds.

Pain relief at home

Feeling a little discomfort on your neck and shoulders? Physician Lee shares some acupressure techniques that you can easily do at home or work for some quick pain relief.

Acupoint

Location

Properties

Feng Chi GB20(风池)

Located at the base of skull, 2 finger-widths from the midline, depression points where neck muscles attach to the skull.

Expel Wind. Relieve neck and shoulder pain, tension headaches and migraine. 

Jian Jing GB21 (肩井)

Located directly above the nipple, on the mid-line of the shoulder trapezius muscle,

Relieve tight shoulder and stiff neck, as well as occipital headache.

Hou Xi SI3(后溪)

Clench your fist, located at the palm crease on the little finger side, where the palm-finger joint is.

Expel Wind. Relieve neck and shoulder pain, lower back ache, tension headaches and migraine. 

 

Type of Pain

Characteristics

Representative prescription

Cold

Inability to achieve full range of motion. Stiffness and pain that exacerbates during cold and reduces with hot application. Pain is usually localized.

Kudzu Decoction

(葛根汤)

Dampness

Dull soreness with heavy sensation, inability to achieve full range of motion. Pain that exacerbates during rainy and damp weather.

Notopterygium Decoction

(羌活胜湿汤)

Deficient

Age-related degenerative conditions, chronic pain with inability to achieve full range of motion, aversion to cold, weight loss, limb and lumbar weakness.

Angelica Pubescens& Mulberry Mistletoe Stem Decoction

(独活寄生汤)

Disclaimer:
This article is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of medical condition. You are encouraged to seek professional medical advice for any medical condition or treatment with your healthcare provider. Pregnant women are strongly advised not to attempt any of the mentioned treatment methods without first speaking to your healthcare provider.


Perk alert!

If you would like to try TCM, now is the time. Until Feb 28, 2018, simply quote “ST-PM” at participating Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic to enjoy a session of consultation + three-day medication for $38.

Valid for new patients and patients whose last visit was more than 12 months ago (i.e. before Dec 18, 2016). Terms and conditions apply, click here for more details or call the clinic hotline at 1800 225 1887.