What is neck pain?
Neck pain is defined as any type of pain, discomfort or loss of mobility affecting the neck area.
How many people are affected by neck pain?
Neck pain is pretty common, with 30-50% of the adult population suffering from neck pain at some point over a 12 month period. Further to this, 23% of these are likely to experience repeat episodes of neck pain throughout this period and women are more likely to experience neck pain (1).
Are you suffering from neck pain? The symptoms of neck pain can vary dramatically:
The pain can range from mild to significant and debilitating
Pain may be localised in the neck or it may radiate (spread) to other areas of the body, commonly to the shoulders or arms or up towards the head
Pain may be sharp or dull
Pain may be superficial (on the surface) or felt deep in the neck joints
There may be reduced range of movement, the neck may be stiff which may make it difficult to turn the head. This can impact day to day activities like being able to drive or perform work duties
The pain may be sporadic (pain coming and going), only felt with certain movements, or it may be constant
Other symptoms of neck pain can include weakness, numbness or tingling. This can be localised or may radiate to the shoulder, arms or hands. This can lead to a loss of strength, or difficulty in gripping or lifting objects
Neck pain can also be a cause of headaches
It can significantly interfere with day to day life, preventing sufferers from being able to perform work duties, simple daily tasks such as driving, getting dressed or caring for children and can also disrupt sleep.
To put it simply, it can be a real pain in the neck!
How is neck pain diagnosed?
Medical diagnosis can be achieved through diagnostic criteria such as:
Assessing range of movement of the neck
Imaging such as x-ray, CT scan or MRI
Local inflammation, disc degeneration or nerve impingement may be assessed
Neck pain can also be associated with degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, cervical spondylitis; or autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, these will also require blood tests to confirm the results
What are the modern medical treatment options for neck pain?
The modern medical treatment of neck pain will vary depending on the cause. In the case of acute injury, rest and anti-inflammatory medication may be advised. Acute but severe neck pain may require additional neck support as the area heals. In some severe cases surgery may be required. Other, more chronic causes of neck pain such as resulting from autoimmune disease can require medication to help control inflammation.
Medications can work well to reduce inflammation and relieve the neck pain, they do however carry the risk of side effects and aren’t suitable for everyone. Surgical procedures also carry with them certain risks. It is important to discuss the risks with your health provider prior to starting any treatment.
Chinese Medicine and Neck Pain
Similar to the modern medicine approach to neck pain, the Chinese medicine view on neck pain is that it can result from a number of different causes. This can include causes such as local inflammation or heat, a build up of stagnation in the area, or conversely not enough Qi or blood flowing to the area.
The treatment will vary depending on the cause. Chinese medicine treatment works to address the presenting symptoms as well as addressing the underlying cause.
What that means, is we will be working to relieve your neck pain whilst also figuring out the cause and preventing it’s recurrence.
What the research says about acupuncture treatment of neck pain:
A meta-analysis published in The Journal of Pain looked at a number of randomised controlled trials (RCT) conducted between 2008 and 2015 on the effect of acupuncture on chronic pain. They found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for different types of chronic pain, including musculoskeletal pain. It found the effects of acupuncture persisted over time (2).
Additionally, a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs in The Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine on the effect of acupuncture on neck pain found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for short term neck pain (3).
Unsure what to expect from a Chinese medicine treatment for neck pain?
For acupuncture newbies, it can be hard to know what to expect. At Shen Ting Community Acupuncture, your practitioner will spend some time in consultation with you to find out all the details of your neck pain and general health before deciding on the best acupuncture treatment for you. If you’ve had any X-rays, scans or blood tests done please bring them with you to your consultation so your practitioner can get a complete picture.
They will then apply the treatment and you get to have a little lie down and a rest while the needles work their magic.
Now to the ‘pointy’ question “will it hurt?”
The short answer is generally, no. There are some sensations felt as the needles are inserted, most of the time these are minimal. Not at all like having a blood test or a vaccination. Once the needles are inserted, any sensations quickly disappear.
Most patients report feeling extremely relaxed during and after an acupuncture treatment. This bliss-like state can last for a couple of hours to a couple of days.
In most cases, patients notice some relief from their pain immediately after the treatment, however it may take 24-48 hours for it to come to full effect. Depending on the nature of your neck pain, it may take several treatments to see significant and lasting change. Your practitioner may recommend a course of treatments. Acupuncture is cumulative, as you continue with your treatments you should continue to notice improvements.
Contact us today on 0435 777 953 or email@example.com to find out more.
1. Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a protocol for an updated systematic review
Qinhong Zhang, Jinhuan Yue, Xiangxin Zeng, Zhongren Sun and Brenda Golianu Zhang et al. Systematic Reviews (2016) 5:76
2. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis The Journal of Pain. Andrew J. Vickers, Emily A. Vertosick, George Lewith, Hugh MacPherson, Nadine E. Foster, Karen J. Sherman, Dominik Irnich, Claudia M. Witt, Klaus Lindeon behalf of the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration
3. Randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for neck pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Li-Min Fu, Ju-Tzu Li, Wen-Shuo Wu J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):133-45. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0135