Neck pain ranges from being a slight nuisance to debilitating. There are a few different ways you can ease neck pain, especially with the help of acupuncture. Below you’ll find more information about what this holistic medical treatment is and how it can help heal your neck pain.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain can be the result of numerous things. This includes muscle strain, sleeping in an incorrect position, or even leaning over your phone or computer for too long. Sometimes neck pain can also be a sign of an underlying problem, like arthritis, a herniated disc, or whiplash. While rare, neck pain could also be an indicator of a hidden infection.
Common Side Effects of Neck Pain
This pain not only can cause excruciating sensations around your neck, but can affect many other areas of your body as well. Some of the most common side effects of neck pain are:
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that applies needles in trigger points throughout your body to help relieve pain. By pushing the needles into these areas, it’s believed to help stimulate them so that blood circulation increases. This can calm tingling nerves and decrease pain caused by them.
Is Acupuncture Painful? Is it Safe?
While it might seem like poking needles into your skin might hurt, acupuncture rarely causes discomfort. In fact, most people who undergo this treatment barely notice when the needles are inserted. At most, you’ll more than likely feel a dull sensation where the acupuncture is performed.
Acupuncture is safe to do. The disposable needles are sterilized before being used on your body. The main side effects of it are slight bruising and swelling near the area where treatment was done.
While generally safe for most people to use there are a few conditions that might not react positively to it, such as if you suffer from bleeding disorders.
3 Ways Acupuncture Helps Relieve Neck Pain
It Calms the Central Nervous System
The central nervous system connects the brain to the spinal cord. It’s composed of numerous tissues that control various bodily functions. If you damage your neck, it will affect how well the central nervous system works and could lead to serious health concerns, like multiple sclerosis and neuralgia. By using acupuncture to release tension and pain in your neck, it will calm the central nervous system.
It Releases Stiffness
A stiff neck is usually caused by overexertion or extreme tension. This can make it difficult for you to turn your head. Acupuncture can release tension in your neck and slightly improve neck functioning.
An acupuncturist will feel around your neck to identify areas of tension and pain. A few might massage the area before they apply the needles as a way to warm the spot up.
It Invigorates Your Blood Circulation
If you have poor blood flow in your neck, it could result in neck pain. The techniques used for this medical procedure increase nitric oxide in the areas where the needles are placed. This encourages the development of oxygen which can boost blood circulation.
How is Acupuncture Done for Neck Pain?
For neck pain, most acupuncturists will require you to either lie on your stomach or back. Some might also request you sit in a chair for treatment.
An acupuncturist will examine a handful of pressure points around your neck. In acupuncture, the main pressure point near this area is known as Jian Jing. This point contains muscles situated near your shoulders. By focusing on this point, an acupuncturist will be able to release tense and stiff muscles and calm tingling nerves.
If your neck pain is caused by swollen lymph nodes or congestion, they might instead look at the Heaven's Pillar point. This is situated on the base of your neck and close to where your head and spine connect. By pressing on it, an acupuncturist can relieve congestion and encourage drainage.
After asking you a few questions about your neck pain (such as where it usually occurs or how long you’ve suffered from it) they will begin the treatment. The acupuncturist will press on the trigger points and gently insert the needles into them. Once they have used as many as they believe is necessary, you’ll need to relax with them in your body for about 15 minutes. After this time has passed, the acupuncturist will then quickly remove them.
Does Acupuncture Only Use Needles for Neck Pain Relief?
Acupuncture mainly uses needles to provide relief, but acupuncturists might also suggest some diet options. By fixing your diet to be high in anti-inflammatory food, it can help the acupuncture session work faster at relieving pain.
Some of the most common food that will be suggested to consume include:
How Often Should These Sessions Be Held?The number of treatments you need to help alleviate neck pain will vary depending on the intensity of your pain. Most of the time, acupuncturists will recommend anywhere from one to two sessions per week over the course of six weeks.
What Should I Do After Having Neck Acupuncture Done?
After you have acupuncture done on your neck the best thing to do is rest. You don’t want to overexert it just because you feel a little better. This can ruin any positive changes the acupuncture treatment made and intensify the pain.
You might also want to apply heat to your neck. This can help soothe any lingering soreness. It will also encourage the area to heal faster.
Acupuncture is a helpful method to use if you want to holistically treat your neck pain. While it might take a few sessions before you start to see results, the wait is definitely worth it.
Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. He brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.