Neck pain is one of the most frequent complaints of the musculoskeletal system. Whether conducting original studies or reviewing studies conducted by others, even most skeptical researchers in the recent years admit that acupuncture can help (Trinh, Graham, Irnich, Cameron, & Forget, 2016). The majority of studies reveal that acupuncture’s effectiveness is the greatest “for relieving pain at short‐term” (Trinh, Graham, Irnich, Cameron, & Forget, 2016), which is hardly surprising, because most studies examine short-term effects, and longitudinal studies—that last for years or, at least, for months—are rare, due to their high cost and great complexity. While large-scale long-term studies would be helpful, even the ones that have been conducted strongly suggest that acupuncture can help chronic neck pain, and it can also increase the outcome of the conventional treatment when it is as an additional treatment modality, and “electroacupuncture relieved pain even more” (Seo et al., 2017). Interestingly enough, one group of researchers conducted a comprehensive study of acupuncture’s effects on neck pain, and their conclusion was, “Acupuncture treatment may therefore be an effective method for managing neck pain, and has the potential to mitigate unnecessary surgery” (Han et al., 2019). But what exactly does it mean to someone who suffers from neck pain?
The reality is, even though acupuncture can be used to treat many health issues, it is only part of a larger, comprehensive holistic approach to treatment as well as well-being known as the traditional Chinese medicine. What it means is that when patient is suffering from neck pain, acupuncture can be used to reduce or even eliminate the pain. If the cause of the pain was an injury, then that may be the end of the issue, but many patients report experiencing neck pain for years, and its treatment often requires more than the stimulation of a few acupuncture points. The cause may be long periods of neck strain at work, or an old injury that never healed completely, or a habit of sleeping in a certain position, or it sometimes can be completely stress related! To find out the exact cause of the problem, acupuncturists conduct a comprehensive examination, in attempt to find any imbalances within an individual organism, and the goal of acupuncture treatment is to restore the body’s optimal balance, which should lead to the disappearance of the neck pain.
As you probably guess, the true acupuncture treatment is more of an art than science, but at the same time the thousands of years of development identified certain guidelines (even the list of best-suited questions that should be asked) that most acupuncturists rely on in their every-day practice, thus reducing the guesswork and increasing treatment’s success rate. At the same time, however, the best way to test if acupuncture can provide you with the most relief is to try it for yourself. The method of traditional Chinese medicine guarantees that your neck pain will not be addressed alone, but rather you will be treated as an individual with neck pain, to ensure that the cause of the pain is identified and taken into consideration, so the pain will take longer to return or, ideally, will never return again.
Han, D. G., Koh, W., Shin, J. S., Lee, J., Lee, Y. J., Kim, M. R., … & Ha, I. H. (2019). Cervical surgery rate in neck pain patients with and without acupuncture treatment: a retrospective cohort study. Acupuncture in Medicine, 37(5), 268-276.
Seo, S. Y., Lee, K. B., Shin, J. S., Lee, J., Kim, M. R., Ha, I. H., … & Lee, Y. J. (2017). Effectiveness of acupuncture and electroacupuncture for chronic neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 45(08), 1573-1595.
Trinh, K., Graham, N., Irnich, D., Cameron, I. D., & Forget, M. (2016). Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (5).