Dating back thousands of years to its initial use in China, acupuncture is certainly not a new pain management option, nor is it one that’s without merit. In fact, many people experience meaningful relief after receiving acupuncture treatment, which involves the insertion of sterile needles at strategic points on the body. The basic concept centers on using this type of nervous system stimulation to increase the flow of the body’s natural energy (qi) through pathways referred to as meridians. But is acupuncture good for neck pain?
How Acupuncture for Neck Pain Works
To answer this question, it helps to know just how acupuncture targets any pain and stiffness you’re experiencing in your neck area. Most practitioners begin by asking about your symptoms. You may also be asked about your sleep habits, what you do for a living, your typical diet, and other lifestyle factors. Along with results from an initial exam and details about your medical history, this information is then used to determine where to place the needles during your sessions. It’s possible for needle placement to be:
• Directly in your neck area
• In related areas in your upper body or mid-back area
• Along certain nerve pathways
What the Research Says
Results from acupuncture treatments are largely considered subjective, since they’re based on patients’ self-reporting of neck-related discomfort following sessions. However, there are small studies that suggest acupuncture can be beneficial for some people with neck pain. If they’ve been evaluated by their spine specialists and don’t require specialized medical intervention, such as replacing a damaged disc in the neck with a Mobi-C artificial cervical disc, Beverly Hills patients may find acupuncture helpful. Some of the possible reasons acupuncture could provide relief from persistent neck-related discomfort include:
• Reduced stress levels, which could contribute to relief because stress is a common contributing factor to neck pain
• Improved circulation in the neck area
• Increased release of the body’s own natural painkillers—chemicals called endorphins
What You Can Expect from Acupuncture
Your position during sessions will depend on the muscle groups or nerve pathways being targeted. You may be directed to lie on your stomach or sit in a chair in a reclined position. It’s also common to be in an environment with soothing music to further help you relax. The thin needles are carefully removed when your acupuncture session is over. Sessions typically last from 15 to 30 minutes. While you’ll want to check with your doctor first, you may benefit from acupuncture treatments for neck pain under the following circumstances:
• Your neck pain isn’t directly related to a serious structural problem that may be better treated with surgery
• Tense ligaments or muscles may be contributing to your neck discomfort
• You want to reduce your reliance on medication or possibly avoid elective surgery
As for whether acupuncture is good for neck pain, more research is needed to provide a conclusive answer. However, the treatment is largely considered safe for most people. Even so, it’s not meant to be a substitute for therapeutic stretches and other common neck pain treatments, but it could be an effective complementary treatment. Just make sure to choose a licensed acupuncturist and let him or her know if you have any bleeding disorders or other underlying health issues that should be taken into consideration. If your neck pain remains or gets worse after acupuncture treatment, talk to your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon.
If you’re having severe or persistent pain in your neck, don’t hesitate to consult a spinal health specialist. The industry-leading experts at The Spine Institute have decades of experience with all types of neck and back pain, and we employ the most innovative methods of diagnosis and treatment to alleviate pain and promote long-term spinal health. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.