At the best of times, necks are particularly vulnerable to injury and, to make things worse, many people sit at computers all day, have bad posture, or regularly place their bodies in awkward positions, such as leaning over a laptop or hauling heavy bags.
Acupuncture is a great way to relieve neck pain quickly. In my office, I generally start treatment with points located away from the neck. For example, there is a point on the wrist called Heart 4 (Ling Dao/Spirit Pathway) that is very effective for the type of neck pain that radiates from the neck through the upper back to the shoulder. I have a lot of success with this method and these distal points are often a quick and effective way of relieving painful or stiff necks. Depending on the patients and the specifics of their pain, I might include needling points in tight muscles near the neck or upper back, electric stimulation can be attached to the needles to further decrease pain and increase muscle relaxation.
In addition to acupuncture, Chinese Medicine has another effective tool for neck pain – cupping. Cupping is the reverse of a massage. Cups use suction to pull up the tissue in the affected area. This relaxes the muscles and increases circulation. One important thing to know about cupping is that although it is an effective, safe technique that often feels very good, you will probably be bruised afterwards. Generally, the bruises don’t hurt though occasionally they may be a little sore. I always recommend that my patients take an Epsom salts bath after cupping because the salts work as an anti-inflammatory and can help prevent, or relieve, soreness.
Neck pain affects many people because the neck is a delicate part of our body and exposed to stress and injury. Luckily, much of the pain can be helped by acupuncture, especially if you seek treatment quickly. I looked up “pain in the neck” and the dictionary describes the phrase as applicable to a person who is a nuisance, disagreeable, or bothersome – sounds about right