Does Acupuncture Help with Neck Pain?
Acupuncture is a modality in Chinese medicine and has been around for 5,000 years. Often people wonder if it’s an effective treatment for neck pain or pain management overall, we like to say that if it weren’t effective, it would have died out long ago!
There are so many causes of neck pain or discomfort, maybe you slept ‘wrong’ or had an uncomfortable night’s sleep, extended periods on a couch or in your work chair, or maybe you’ve been in an accident or done something extreme at the gym. Either way, neck pain is not uncommon, it’s usually minor and comes and goes but when it doesn’t consider letting us help move things along!
What is an acupuncture treatment like?
An acupuncture treatment is simply the administration of fine needles, about the size of one hair on your head. These thin needles are inserted into acupuncture points causing a stimulus to release, tonify, relax or harmonize the area, the meridian or the organ system.
With neck pain, it doesn’t matter if it’s just a pulled muscle, cervical radiculopathy, thoracic outlet syndrome or multiple things going on at once. We locate the pain, find the meridian associated with the area and treat accordingly bringing down inflammation, enhancing circulation to the area which speeds up healing time, increasing mobility and relaxing any muscle tension.
For example, let’s say a patient comes to the clinic with terrible upper back and neck pain on the left side. There is trapezius involvement and the whole area between the spine and scapula going all the way down to thoracic vertebrae 8 is quite painful, patient has difficulty turning their head to the left or touching their ear to their shoulder, flexion and extension is completely normal though.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, we asses which meridians are effected, here it’s primarily the Gall Bladder because of the trapezius involvement and also the inability to turn the neck side to side. The Urinary Bladder is also involved since this meridian runs along the entire spine, about an inch away on both sides. Lastly, the Small Intestine is a culprit as well since this meridian zig zags all over the scapula. So, we know who the imbalanced meridians are, how do we treat it? At Tao to Wellness, we use Dr Tan’s Balance Method often, this is a distal needling method, it’s basically needling away from the pain or the area of imbalance. There are many meridians that can balance the imbalanced meridians above, but probably the best ones for this are the Liver and the Kidney. So by treating acupuncture points on these meridians we can balance and pull the “traffic jam” away from the painful area. In Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, we mirror the body and use acupuncture points on the ankle and lower leg. We can also use some points on the wrist and forearm as well. The beauty of doing a treatment style like this is is it allows us to do ‘moving needle technique’ where after the insertion of needles, we have the patient move their head or mimic the pain. It’s a wonderful way to target and bring attention to the area so that that traffic jam starts to move along a bit faster.
How many acupuncture treatments do I need for treatment of neck pain?
That all depends! Maybe you just woke up with it this morning or it’s something that’s been nagging you for months or maybe even years! In a nutshell, the longer something has been around, the harder it is do get rid of. It’s like it’s taken residence in your body. That being said, patients see an improvement right after the first treatment and most of the time, during the actual treatment itself. From there, we listen to your body and tell patients when the pain comes back, you come back! Some patients will ‘hold’ their treatments anywhere from 1-5 days, by returning to the clinic before the pain is at the same level, we are able to get deeper healing out of that next treatment and giving you results faster. As the pain become less and less, you need less and less treatments.
Are there other things you can do for Neck Pain?
Cupping is also a wonderful addition to your acupuncture treatment and is used for pain on the entire back.
Herbal medicine can take things to the next level, helping your body make subtle shifts throughout the day which will get you the results you want faster.
Lastly Herbal Patches can administer herbal medicine through the skin locally in the area and can will assist in resolving things faster.
How to get started with us?
We are happy to see you and assess what is the best course of action for you, you can make an appointment or give us a call at 510-883-0383.
In the realm of pain management, acupuncture truly shines and completes the “trifecta” of alternative medicine. At Tao to Wellness we see more pain management related issues then anything else in our practice. Whether it’s neck pain, back pain, knee pain, wrist pain or simply a headache, it doesn’t matter, acupuncture can address all of these with much success!