Acupuncture is one of the most widely used treatment options for neck pain, as it has a proven history of effectively treating this condition.
A large percentage of the patients that come into my office are experiencing chronic or acute neck pain. Perhaps they were in a car accident. Or they slept “wrong”, and woke up with severe pain and limited range of motion. Whatever the cause, it can be extremely painful and debilitating.
In every case, it is important to relax the muscles that are in spasm, and decrease any inflammation or neurogenic pain.
Acupuncture is often effective because it has the ability to improve circulation and reduce muscle tension.
Wishing the tradition of East Asian Medicine, acupuncture works by regulating the flow of energy in meridians, which can be seen as networks that distribute energy through the body. The meridians correspond to the major organs of the body. The bladder meridian runs along the nape of the neck and is, therefore, primarily implicated in the treatment of neck pain. The energetic of the bladder meridian relate to fear, anxiety, ambition, will power, and urgency. Therefore, many people with neck pain also have deeper layers of fear that need to be released, either from whiplash as occurs in a car accident, or in relating to the daily life circumstances of work, money, and survival. The Qi tends to get stuck around the point Bladder 10 at the nape of the neck, which is a central point for clearing fear and anxiety.
Acupuncture should be a relaxing, gentle treatment approach, even if the painful area is being stimulated.
There are occasions where the neck won’t be touched at all, as the treatment will be more effective by stimulating distal points that correspond to the imbalanced meridian. Neck muscles tend to be reactive, and if there has been recent trauma due to an accident, it is important to proceed with care. I often utilize a gentle micro current along with the acupuncture, as that will speed up muscle relaxation and repair.
While acupuncture is an excellent treatment option for all kinds of neck pain, Chinese herbs are used frequently as well. The following formulas are used regularly for this purpose:
- Neck Formula by Plum Flower
- Ease Plus by Health Concerns: Helps with neck and upper back tension due to excessive stress and worry
- Ge gen tang: Often used for neck pain due to the onset of a cold, but has been applied for many types of chronic neck pain as well. This formula has also been found to be useful for helping chiropractic adjustments hold for longer periods of time.
Meditation and deep breathing exercises can also be helpful, as most people with chronic neck and upper back pain tend to breathe quite superficially. Training yourself to breathe more deeply oxygenates the muscle tissue and provides an internal massage for the deepest layers of your musculature.
Most of my patients with chronic neck pain commit to acupuncture twice a week for 4-6 visits, at which time we reassess for progress. Most patients find that they feel much better after each treatment, not only in relation to the neck pain, but in their overall sense of health and well-being.
Call us at 360.943.0306 to set up your first appointment today!
Jim Stegenga, L.Ac.
Serving Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater, and the South Puget Sound