The pain of hypochondrium in Chinese medicine

Pain of hypochondrium indicates the pain in one side of hypochondrium or in both sides of hypochondrium. In the classic books about the theory of Chinese medicine, pain of hypochondrium has been recognized as an important symptom of the illness of liver and gallbladder. Su Wen says, “In the case of liver illness, two sides of hypochondrium feel pain which may spread to lower abdomen, and the person easily becomes irritated.” Ling Shu says, “When a pathogenic factor stays in the liver, two sides of hypochondrium feel pain.” When Ling Shu describes the meridian of gallbladder, which the meridian of foot Shaoyang, the book says, “If the meridian has a pathological change, the person feels bitter taste in his mouth, often sighs, and feels pain in the heart and the hypochondrium, so that he can’t turn his body in bed.”

The causes of pain of hypochondrium

The pain of hypochondrium may happen after long-term depression, unhealthy eating habits, falls, or long illness. The causes include the stasis of liver Qi, the stasis of blood, the retention of pathogenic dampness and pathogenic heat, and the deficiency of liver Yin. The mainly related internal organs are liver and gallbladder, while spleen, stomach, and kidneys may be involved.

Pain caused by blocking or by losing nourishment

The pain of hypochondrium that is caused by the stasis of liver Qi, the stasis of blood, or the retention of pathogenic dampness and pathogenic heat, is an excess syndrome, which is called “pain caused by blocking”. When the pain is caused by the deficiency of Yin and blood, it is a deficiency syndrome, which is called “pain caused by losing nourishment”.

The stasis of Qi is generally the initial cause of the pain of hypochondrium, and long-term stasis of Qi causes the stasis of blood. If an excess syndrome lasts for a long time, the stasis of liver Qi may be transformed into fire, and fire hurts Yin. The combination of pathogenic dampness and pathogenic heat may also hurt Yin. Long-term stasis of blood causes the decrease in forming new blood, so an excess syndrome may develop to a deficiency syndrome. A deficiency syndrome can also develop to a syndrome that mixes deficiency and excess by the influence of depression and eating habits.

Differentiation between syndromes of pain of hypochondrium

The stasis of Qi or the stasis of blood

The pain caused by the stasis of Qi is generally felt as a pain of bloating. Its position is not fixed. Sometimes the pain is light, and sometimes it is heavy. Moreover, the changes between light pain and heavy pain may be related to the changes of emotions.

The pain caused by the stasis of blood is generally felt as a pain of prickling. Its position is fixed, and the pain always exists while pressing aggravates the pain. The pain becomes worse at night.

Excess or deficiency

When pain of hypochondrium is an excess syndrome, the pain is acute and serious. Pressing aggravates the pain, so the person refuses to press the region of pain. The person’s pulse is excess and strong.

When pain of hypochondrium is a deficiency syndrome, the pain is always a dull pain, and it is chronic, while the symptoms of deficiency of Yin and blood can be seen.

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