Using Acupuncture for Neck Pain
What are the Most Common Causes of Neck Pain?
Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain in the body, secondary only to low back pain. There are so many causes for neck pain; bad posture, poor support during sleep, repetitive stress, muscle strain from movement and stress.
From a Chinese medicine point of view, there are six meridians involved in neck pain, the Large Intestine and Stomach, the Urinary Bladder and Small Intestine and the Gall Bladder and Triple Burner or San Jiao. All of these play a part in neck pain and is mostly dependent on which direction the patient moves his or her head that dictates which meridian is out of balance or the cause of the neck pain. For example, if the patient moved their head up and down, nodding their head in a Yes manner, that tells us the Urinary Bladder and Small Intestine are involved. If the patient turns their head side to side, in a No manner, that tells us the culprit may be the Gall Bladder and San Jiao and lastly, if the patient has the most pain when they try to touch their ear to their shoulder it may be the Large Intestine and Stomach meridians. Any of the reasons above can trigger these types of neck pain and meridian involvement, but the type of neck pain exacerbated by stress is the Gall Bladder and Triple Burner, we see this particular layout associated with stress the most since the Liver and Gall Bladder have a special relationship, partners in crime if you will, if the Liver becomes overwhelmed it uses the Gall Bladder as an overflow system which can effects the meridian and causes neck pain.
What Is the Best Way to Prevent Neck Pain?
There are many things one can do to prevent neck pain:
Meditation and Relaxation
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, meditation is imperative to a relaxed, stress free and happy life. I do believe that meditation can help relax the entire body in such a way that muscles, tendons and ligaments receive more lubrication or moisture, thereby being more flexible and impacted less by injury overall.
More Sleep (and deeper!)
Seems like many of us are not getting enough hours of sleep, how often do you hear someone saying they wish there were 10 more hours in the day! Not only does the amount of hours matter but the quality does as well. We need Deep sleep in order for our muscles to recovery, there’s no way around it. A great tool to use for this is a Fitbit, I love my Fitbit and get excited to wake up in the morning to see how much REM and Deep sleep I got the night before.
Epsom Salt Baths
If you’ve had a hard day or stress is high overall, an epsom salt bath might do the trick. Not only does the warm (or hot) water relax the muscles, but epsom salt is loaded with magnesium and magnesium is necessary in over 300 different systems in the body. I think magnesium should be discussed just as much as its rock star friends Vitamins B and C.
We live our lives scrunched up, in our seats for hours – driving, at the computer, etc. Look into receiving a professional stretching session, having someone else stretch you out is so much better than doing it on your own, usually the practitioner will also prescribe sets of exercises for you to do on a daily basis.
Herbs are a wonderful and natural way to relieve the body of inflammation. They work with the root of the problem, working preventatively as opposed to support during a flare up or crisis when you might need something like Advil or Motrin which ultimately is just masking the situation by turning off your pain responders. Anti inflammatory herbal remedies are much effective in the long run. Herbs like Turmeric, Ginger, Rosemary or Fish Oil.
It is highly recommended to work with a licensed herbalist when creating a herbal regimen.
Does Acupuncture Help Neck Pain?
Absolutely. In complementary care circles, we look at the triad of health to be Massage, Chiropractic and Acupuncture. All three play such an important role in overall healthcare. Massage is wonderful for relaxing the muscles, chiropractic is necessary for moving bones and creating balance in the structure of the spine and acupuncture is imperative for de-stressing the body, bringing inflammation down, opening up the meridians, relaxing tendons and muscles and bringing more oxygen to the site of injury so healing can begin. In addition to all that, acupuncture can also balance the entire body thereby impacting one’s sleep, digestion, hormones, brain chemistry, immunity and myriad other things. It makes sense to work with an acupuncturist since we can impact ALL aspects of health.
Where Do You Put Acupuncture Needles for Neck Pain?
We like to veer away from the site of injury and trust the meridian system, so usually for neck pain you will be needled around your wrists and ankles, hands and feet. It’s a strategy to not ‘hurt the baby when they are sick’ so we needle away from the pain creating a freeway system to open up the area, bring down inflammation, increase blood flow and speed up healing time.