At one point or another we’ve all had neck pain: strained neck, sprained neck, stiff neck, etc. Most of these pains resolve with time and rest. Then we get back to our daily lives, easily forgetting those few days of discomfort.
For some, however, their neck pain is what they think of most every moment of every day. Finding relief for these people is often challenging and getting an accurate diagnosis is equally difficult. There are several orthopedic tests that can indicate to a practitioner where the pain is emanating from and educated guesses may be made as to the actual cause. X-Rays, MRI’s and CT Scans can help identify what is actually going on within the neck, yet many folks cannot afford these out of pocket or cannot get coverage with their insurance.
Possible causes of neck pain (aside from muscle strain or sprain) can be cervical spondylosis, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, herniated or ruptured disc, spinal tumors, degenerated discs, etc. In any of these cases there is typically a force being applied to a nerve root in the neck creating the pain sensation (radiculopathy). Often times, the pain from the nerve compression is not felt solely in the neck, but is also felt in areas such as the shoulder or down the arm. This type of pain is “radiating” from the neck and is traveling down the nerve pathway. Ouch!
Several research trials show acupuncture to be more effective than conventional care in the treatment of neck pain. Patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for example, found acupuncture more effective than physical therapy, analgesics or anti-inflammatory medicine for their post-surgical neck pain.
Can acupuncture help to relieve your neck pain? Research shows it very well could. Should you try acupuncture for your neck pain? Absolutely, you should. Your acupuncturist will ask you a series of questions and may perform orthopedic tests in order to pinpoint the source of your pain. In addition to acupuncture they may also use heat therapy, cupping, or Tuina (a form of body work). Your acupuncturist will work closely with you in order to find a plan that works best for you.
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