Acupuncture For Neck Pain: Does it Help?

Dealing with a pain in the neck? It is one of the most common complaints – sleeping wrong, sitting in front of a computer all day, straining your neck due to an awkward position. Acute neck pain usually resolves on its own and lasts less than a week. However, when neck pain is longer lasting, it may be considered chronic, and seeing a professional acupuncturist may be the answer.

 

What Causes Neck Pain

The causes of neck pain are varied, but help us understand the best way to treat it. Talk to your acupuncturist about your specific symptoms and if you are aware of a specific triggering event.

Inflammation. Inflammation is the culprit behind most pain, and is the main symptom acupuncture treats. Inflammation has been tied to many diseases and acupuncture reduces pain by bringing more blood flow to the area. If you have inflammation in your neck, jaw, or spine, this may be what is causing you neck pain.

Weak Muscles. We tend to do repetitive tasks that leave some neck muscles strained and others weak. Doing new activities, such as painting, sitting in a dental chair (or driving) for an extended period of time, or sport activity, can all cause an unusual strain resulting in neck pain. Headaches and general pain can be treated with ice, acupuncture treatments, or even an over-the-counter pain reliever. However, if the pain doesn’t improve, you’ll want to look at a deeper cause.

Whiplash. Whiplash can happen any time a person’s head is jerked forward and back rapidly. It is most commonly known in car accidents, but can happen in athletic accidents as well. Whiplash is the collection of small injuries to the neck muscles and connective tissues and can present symptoms immediately or up to several weeks after the initial impact.

Slipped disk. Pain that shoots down your shoulder or arm could be caused by a slipped vertebra putting pressure on a nerve. This is sometimes a condition of muscle weakness due to illness,age, or injury.

Does Acupuncture help with Neck Pain?

According to recent studies dealing with neck and back pain, acupuncture treatment was found more effective than a placebo for treating the discomfort, even more so than physical therapy, massage, or medication alone.

In my office, I regularly see patients with both symptomatic short-term pain as well as chronic or long-term conditions. Neck pain responds favorably to acupuncture treatment without the harmful side effects of medications or addictive component associated with pain killers such as opiates.

Acupuncture treatment, along with other suggested lifestyle changes such as exercises, repositioning habits, nutritional support (when needed), and more, can be life changing for a patient dealing with the physical and emotional toll of chronic pain. Most patients will  experience at least some level of relief after one treatment, while others will see best results after a few visits.

Dr. Mark VanOtterloo is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He is an integrative, functional medicine practitioner specializing in chronic disease and women’s health, using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in a mainstream medical model. To learn more about acupuncture as a solution for your neck pain, contact Dr. Mark VanOtterloo for an appointment or free consultation.