What is Chronic Neck Pain?

Dealing with a pain in the neck? It is one of the most common complaints. Sleeping wrong or sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time strains your neck. Acute neck pain usually resolves on its own and lasts less than a week. However, when neck pain lasts longer it may be considered chronic. Seeing medical professional including an acupuncturist can help you get out of pain.


What Causes Neck Pain

The causes of neck pain are varied. As a result, a good assessment is very important before starting treatment. Talk to your acupuncturist about your specific symptoms and if you are aware of your specific triggering event.

Inflammation: is the culprit behind most pain and is the main condition acupuncture treats. Inflammation has been tied to many diseases including chronic pain. In fact, acupuncture reduces inflammation by bringing more blood flow to the area. As a result, system has a chance to normalize inflammation. 

Weak Muscles: we tend to do repetitive tasks that results in strained and weak neck muscles. As an example, driving for an extended period of time can cause an unusual strain resulting in neck pain. Acute neck pain can be treated with ice, acupuncture, or even an over-the-counter herbal formulas. However, if the pain doesn’t improve, you’ll want to look at a deeper cause.

Whiplash: occurs when a person’s head is jerked forward and back rapidly – like a whip. It commonly occurs in car accidents. Whiplash can occur during an athletic event as well. In conclusion, whiplash is an injury to the neck muscles and connective tissue which hurts both immediately and up to several weeks after.

Slipped disk: pain that shoots down your shoulder or arm could be caused by a slipped vertebra putting pressure on a nerve. This often results because of muscle weakness due to illness, age, or injury.

Does Acupuncture help with Neck Pain?

A recent study, focused on neck and back pain, reported that acupuncture treatment was more effective than a placebo. Acupuncture was even more effective than physical therapy, massage, or medication alone. Simply put, acupuncture reduced pain. In clinical practice, I’ve always found patients benefited from physical therapy, massage, and medication. 

In my office, I regularly see patients with both acute and chronic discomfort. Neck pain responds favorably to acupuncture treatment without the harmful side effects of medications. Also, acupuncture isn’t an addictive therapy unlike opiate pain killers.

For chronic cases, treatments along with other suggested lifestyle changes such as exercises, repositioning habits, nutritional support (when needed) can be life changing.  Most patients will  experience at least some level of relief after one treatment. Understandably, in more extreme cases a few visits might be needed for a patient to clearly experience pain relief.

Supplement Recommendations for Chronic Pain


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.