Treatment of Bone, Muscle and Nerve pain – Chinese and Western views

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Pain, whether it is bone, muscle, or nerve-related, is a common symptom experienced by many individuals. Western medicine tends to view pain through an anatomical and physiological lens, while Chinese medicine approaches it from an energetic perspective. Both Western and Chinese medicine offer effective approaches to managing pain, and a complementary approach can be used to address pain at both physical and energetic levels.

Western medicine typically treats bone pain with medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, or bisphosphonates. Muscle pain is often treated with physical therapy, medication, and rest, while nerve pain is treated with medication like antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids, as well as physical therapy.

Chinese medicine sees pain as a result of an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi and blood in the body. Acupuncture, a technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body, can be effective in restoring the flow of Qi and blood and relieving pain. Chinese herbal medicine, which uses natural substances to balance the body’s energy, can also be used to manage pain.

The Kidney TCM-organ is responsible for bone health, and tonifying Kidney Qi can help relieve bone pain. The Liver TCM-organ is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood in the body, and Liver Qi stagnation can cause muscle pain. Nerve pain is often related to the Heart TCM-organ, which is responsible for the flow of blood and Qi in the body.


“Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis” by Vickers et al. published in The Journal of Pain in 2018.

“Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: A Review and Meta-Analysis” by Vickers et al. published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2018.

“Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Chronic Pain: A Review of the Evidence” by Chen et al. published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2018.

“Clinical Observations on Acupuncture Treatment of Musculoskeletal Pain” by Li et al. published in The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2018.

“Chinese Medicine Study Guide: Fundamentals” by Corinne Birchard, published in 2020.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Neuropathy Information Page. Available at