Neck pain is a very common condition seen at the clinic. It can be felt directly in the neck or as a referred pain from a different source. The pain can range in severity and location.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain can be caused by several sources:
- Nerve compression– typically from a herniated disk or bone spur in one of the cervical vertebrae. This causes a pinching of the nerve which can become chronic. Other causes such as arthritis or osteoporosis can also cause compression in the nerves as the space between the vertebrae narrows.
- Muscle strain– from fatigued muscles when overused, often from sports injuries or hunched at a desk. More severe cases can be caused from whiplash. Often the muscles are stretched or compressed to their limits and will be felt as a dull ache in the muscles.
- Other diseases– will cause neck pain as a secondary symptom. Diseases such as meningitis or fibromyalgia will damage soft tissue or elicit strong pain responses in the neck.
How does Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treat neck pain?
Acupuncture has been shown to be a leading method in the prevention and treatment of neck pain and most patients see a dramatic increase within their first treatment. One of the most common causes of neck pain is muscle strain, as listed above. For this case, insertion of fine acupuncture needles into specific points in the neck and shoulder muscles will effectively reset tense muscles to properly relax and reduce the pain. The long term result is that it will also bring increased blood flow and circulation to that area, thus offering increased nourishment to those muscles to prevent further injuries/strains/pains. An added benefit of using acupuncture is that it can be extremely specific with which muscle groups we are targeting. At times, the affected muscles can be quite deep in the body and difficult to reach with manual manipulation or massage. However, with acupuncture we can penetrate to the deeper layers and correct those muscle to tense and relax as they normally would, thus reducing the strain.
Neck pain of nerve compression origin is treated slightly differently from muscle strain pains. In this case, the treatment and point selection would focus on decreasing inflammation of the nerves and herniated disks.
An adjunctive treatment which has also been extremely beneficial is the addition of cupping to the treatment. You can read more about cupping here. This is usually performed after the acupuncture session and works in conjunction.
If you or someone you know suffers from neck pain, please contact our office to find out if acupuncture is right for you.