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The Practical Herbalist

Spring Cleaning Hip

A very wise acupuncture teacher I once had, told me to be aware of some of the unique maladies of spring. There are three that I see in patients as regularly as spring flowers; Spring Cleaning Hip, Rental Buzz, and Spring Wind In The Channels. These are fanciful names for odd conditions that drive people crazy this time of year. All of them can be avoided, if you understand how they come about. If you do find yourself afflicted with one of these there are ways you can treat them yourself.

The first which usually afflicts women is Spring Cleaning Hip. It is characterized as an odd pain that radiates down one leg from the hip. Sometimes there is also pain to one side of the tailbone. This condition often comes from moving heavy furniture to clean. As the furniture is pushed back up against the wall the person bumps their hip into the furniture to snug the furniture back into a tight position against the wall. The odd angle of force results in a strain on the hip area, which is often not felt until a day or so later. This injury can obviously be prevented by not using dance moves to adjust furniture. If it is too heavy, get help, or at least use good body mechanics. Usually this can be treated with regular applications of heat to the hip as well as topical sports pain rubs that contain menthol and camphor.

Rental Buzz usually affects men. The condition is marked by odd electrical type pains, numbness or tingling in the arms, shoulders and sometimes back and hips. This is often brought on by the weekend warrior taking on a big project and renting a piece of power machinery to do the job. (say a rototiller, reciprocating saw, chain saw etc.) Since the tool is a rental, the weekend warrior only has it for a few hours and rushes to get the job done by using the tool nonstop for several hours. The vibrations of the tool and holding a heavy piece of equipment in unfamiliar ways leads to strain and overuse. This type of injury just takes time to heal. Rest and good food high in protein, as well as massage of the affected areas and application of a sports pain rub will help. Prevention comes from getting help or renting the tool for a more reasonable period of time so you can take breaks.

Spring Wind In The Channels can affect anyone who gets out into the early spring weather to do yard work, or helps a friend move. This condition is described in the ancient herbal text the Shang Han Lun. The symptoms are weakness, and body aches, particularly in the back and neck, feelings of cold, and a nagging chronic common cold-like condition that just doesn't manifest into a full cold. There is often an increased sensitivity to wind. This condition is caused by the body tightening up in response to wind. Usually the person was working hard, was hot and sweaty and takes off outer clothing, then gets chilled before they cover up again. Carrying boxes in and out of a warm house will often do it. The back muscles "lock up" in response to a blast of cold wind across the back and neck and then does not let go resulting in the symptoms. A good rule of thumb to prevent this is dress in layers and keep your back and neck protected from cold air when you are sweating. Treatment involves over heating the body in a sauna, or really hot bath. Hot soups made of hot spices are also recommended. Add hot spices like black pepper, onions, garlic, ginger, mustard and hot sauce to hot soup or tea and drink until you start sweating again, then cover up with warm clothes and let your body recover.

In all three of these conditions, prevention is best. If you do find that you have done one of these things to yourself, remember that the sooner you start treatment, the easier they are to correct.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066