Neck pain is, unfortunately, an extremely common consequence of our modern lifestyle. Between car accidents, our computer habits, and our stress level, it’s something almost everyone experiences at least occasionally.
Our necks have a tough job: they have to hold the weight of our head (about 10% of the body’s weight), and still be flexible enough for all the finely tuned head and neck movements required as we interact with our world. Actually, the lower 5 neck vertebrae account for about 50% of the flexibility in the entire spine!
And, the neck is where we stash a lot of tension. It’s instinctive, actually, to tense and protect the neck whenever we’re feeling threatened in any way. We also spend a lot of our time typing, driving, and generally handling things in front of us, which can tighten neck and shoulder muscles. And, the neck is highly prone to injury in car accidents, sports, and other physical activities. If these injuries aren’t treated effectively and allowed to heal completely, they can translate into a long-term vulnerability to neck pain.
Acupuncture treatment of neck pain can be marvelously effective. There are several “empirical points” for neck pain, mostly on far-away locations like the hands and ankles, that can often provide instant improvement in pain level and range of motion, especially in acute cases. (“Empirical” points are those that have been found to be highly effective, even though there is no good theory to explain why they would be so). Local treatment, such as needling, cupping, heat therapy, or tui na (massage) can help release muscle tension and bring healing circulation to the area. Even degenerative structural changes such as arthritis, disk problems, or bone spurs can respond well to treatment over time.
Of course, treatment also addresses underlying causes of neck pain. This may include tension, pain or misalignment in other parts of the spine, which affect the neck and head. Bringing the body’s internal systems into balance helps assure that the muscles are well nourished and strong, and that excessive tension is not being held in the body. Overcoming neck pain may also mean making changes in posture, work habits, exercise, and stress management. And, I’m always happy to make referrals if there is a structural problem better addressed by another modality, such as craniosacral therapy or chiropractic.
There are many ways you can take good care of your own neck. See the article below!