I have neck pain, and it aching me constantly. Is there anything that you can do? I was diagnosed with arthritis and prescribed ibuprofen. Is there anything acupuncture can do to help?
A common story heard everyday. I treat patients with symptoms similar to the ones described on a daily basis. As a holistic healthcare provider, I am always learning and discovering new ways to treatment ailments, and neck pain is no exception.
Can acupuncture help with neck pain? Yes it can, and the results of the treatment will vary with every patient which is why you can’t receive a diagnoses through this article. You need to see an acupuncturist to determine all the variables and determine what the prognosis (the likely course of a disease or ailment) may be. However, I can give you some insight that can help you to make a better decision in the direction you would like to take your treatment regimen. I have successfully treated many patients and help them to reduce their pain significantly with long lasting relief, and for patients in which I could not improve significantly, at least benefited in some form from the treatment.
Science Research on Acupuncture for Neck Pain
A systematic review of acupuncture for non-specific neck pain revealed moderate evidence that acupuncture is more effective at achieving pain relief immediately after treatment and at at short-term follow-up (less than 3 months) than some sham treatments, inactive treatment, or waiting list control1. Some of the studies used were of low quality, but two more radomized controled studies were added and analyzed and found acupuncture to improve pain compared to other treatments in the study.
A 2009 analysis found that actual acupuncture was more helpful for neck pain than simulated acupuncture, but the analysis was based on a small amount of evidence (only three studies with small study populations). 2
A large German study with more than 14,000 participants evaluated adding acupuncture to usual care for neck pain. The researchers found that participants reported greater pain relief than those who didn’t receive it; the researchers didn’t test real acupuncture vs. sham acupuncture in the study. 3
Not Just Acupuncture.
Studies have been conducted using only acupuncture, but in the clinical setting an acupuncturist will use multiple modalities in the treatment regimen. My treatment regimen also consists of acupressure, cupping (popularized by Michael Phelps), herbal therapy, ear seeds, Gua Sha, breathing and stretching exercises. As you can see there is a combination of therapies used to achieve the goal of reducing pain.
How do I know if the treatment is working?
There are a few ways to determine if a therapy is effective, including:
- Decrease use/stoppage in medication.
- Using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS, i.e. pain scale 0 – 10) for pain assessment. Has the pain intensity decreased from the treatment?
- Decrease in the frequency of the pain. Is the pain occuring less than before?
- Location of pain. Has the pain shifted or localized to one area?
There is no special receipe nor a one minute quick fix treatment. Hopefully this will give you better insight into what options may be available to help you find relief.
This article is for educational purpueses only and not intended to diagnosis. Please consult with your primary healthcare provider.
- Binder, A. 2008. Neck Pain. Retrieved September 24, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907992/#BMJ_1103_I12
- National Center for Complementeray and Integrative Medicine. 2016. Acupuncture. Retrieved September 9th, 2017 from https://nccih.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Acupuncture_11-10-2015.pdf