Common symptoms that can accompany neck pain and tension include:
- shoulder pain
- numbness, tinging and/or shooting pain into the arms and hands
- poor sleep due to pain
How to find natural relief from neck pain:
- Epsom salt baths are good for relieving tension, epsom salt contains magnesium which is a natural muscle relaxant.
- Avoid forward head posture. Make a conscious effort to not jut your head forward. There is a book of exercises from an Australian Physical Therapist called Treat Your Own Neck that provides exercises to correct this posture. I highly recommend this to all of my patients.
- Natural therapies like chiropractic and massage can provide a lot of relief for many people. Yoga is also a great method.
- Find ways to relax such as mediation, yoga, deep breathing or essential oils that provide relief from stress.
How acupuncture works for neck pain relief:
- Acupuncture helps to loosen tense muscles and releases trigger points.
- Acupuncture stimulates blood-flow to the tight muscles. When muscles are tight (or injured, such as in a crash) they become ischemic, meaning blood isn't flowing there. This means that oxygen and nutrition are not getting to the muscle so that is can do it's job of contraction and relaxation. Restoring blood flow enhances function, range of motion and relieves pain.
- Acupuncture helps to release the body's own natural painkilling hormones and endorphins to not only reduce the neck pain, but also relieve stress which can be an underlying cause of neck pain.
- Most acupuncturists also use cupping, which is a form of bodywork that creates decompression of soft tissue. Cupping is amazing for relieving neck pain, and though is it similar to massage, I've seen patient's who haven't benefitted from massage find relief through cupping for their neck pain. Michael Phelps was the most recent celebrity to bring notoriety to cupping.
What about acupuncture for spinal stenosis, herniations, bone spurs, arthritis, etc?
I've seen great results for neck pain caused by these conditions. While acupuncture will not correct the underlying physical structure, I've seen acupuncture provide a lot of relief for sufferers with these conditions.
How many acupuncture treatments will it take for me to see relief?
It depends on how severe your pain is and how long the condition has been around. Many people will see relief from the first treatment, some will start seeing relief a little later around the third or fourth treatment. A course of about 6-12 treatments is recommended; this number will depend on your particular condition and response to treatment. Many patients will benefit from "tune-up" maintenance treatments about once every 4-6 weeks, after their initial course of treatment is complete.
Are there any side-effects from acupuncture for neck pain relief?
This is one of the biggest benefits to using acupuncture for neck pain relief - because side effects are mild and very rare. When you are weighing options like surgery or opioid pain medication, acupuncture has VERY few potential side effects by comparison. For a few, after a treatment they may feel slightly lightheaded. This is nothing that a little water and rest can't fix. A small bruise from acupuncture or marks from cupping are also a potential "side-effect." With acupuncture, more common side-effects are feeling calmer and less stressed, sleeping better and having more energy.
Does acupuncture hurt?
No. It really doesn't!