Sore lower back according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Sore lower back

Sore lower back can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like sore lower back here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here sore lower back is often associated with dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats in the pattern “Kidney Yang Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause sore lower back.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of sore lower back we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat sore lower back.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause sore lower back

In Chinese Medicine sore lower back is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to sore lower back, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to sore lower back, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to sore lower back, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, hot flushes and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) is the king ingredient for Er Miao San, a formula used for Damp-Heat

Damp-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to sore lower back, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat include dizziness, dry mouth and abdominal fullness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Damp-Heat is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Intermenstrual Bleeding or Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Damp-Heat is often treated with Er Miao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Phellodendron Bark - Huang Bo - as a key herb). Er Miao San belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Dampness from the Lower Burner".

Read more about Damp-Heat here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

In addition to sore lower back, other symptoms associated with Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome.

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys here

Five herbal formulas that might help with sore lower back

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with sore lower back?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which sore lower back is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Er Xian Tang

Source date: 1950 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys. Clears Empty Heat. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels.

Why might Er Xian Tang help with sore lower back?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which sore lower back is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yang Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Er Xian Tang here

Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Source date: 1576 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expel Dampness. Relieve pain. Move Qi and Blood.

Why might Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang help with sore lower back?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat' of which sore lower back is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Damp-Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with sore lower back?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which sore lower back is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with sore lower back?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys' of which sore lower back is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat sore lower back

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with sore lower back?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore lower back as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with sore lower back?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore lower back as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with sore lower back?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore lower back as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Er Xian Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with sore lower back?

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore lower back as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with sore lower back?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore lower back as a symptom, like Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Conditions associated with sore lower back

Menopausal syndrome Menstrual cramps