TCM Approach to total pain management: diagnostics and therapeutics

Steven Aung

In China, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and biomedicine coexist in a complementary manner. In TCM. as in other traditional medical systems, good health is defined in terms of physical, mental and spiritual harmony. Disease is considered a disruption of this essential harmony.

TCM diagnostics encompasses inquiry (past diseases and present symptoms), inspection (including close scrutiny of the ear and tongue as well as observation of mental and spiritual vitality), palpation (including pulse analysis and palpation of “alarm” points) auscultation/olfactory (careful listening and smelling for signs of disease) and various other techniques.

Accurate diagnosis leads to the correct identification of patterns of vital energetic disharmony and to the formulation of proper preventive and treatment strategies. TCM therapeutics encompasses Qi Gong vital energy buildup exercises, other physical, mental and spiritual exercises, herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage/manipulation and advice/counseling. These therapeutic modalities work together holistically to treat the physical, mental and spiritual needs of patients. Acupuncture and massage/manipulation techniques work from the “outside in,” from the superficial level of the meridians to the deep level of the organ system, relieving pain and discomfort as well as balancing vital energy.

Dietetics and herbal medicine work from the opposite direction, while Qi Gong works from both directions at once simultaneously. Taken together, all of these therapies help control the patients’ total pain in a complementary, conservative and compassionate manner.