Neck Pain

Neck pain can have a number of causes. The most common causes are a stiff neck, pinched nerves, and arthritis, although these causes are often intertwined. In our experience, acupuncture for neck pain works very well. At the same time, everyone is different and so is the real cause of pain. For example, one patient reported that he “slept wrong” two nights prior and his neck had been hurting after that. Careful examination revealed that the muscles of his neck had been stiff for a while, at least for a few months (the muscles felt under the fingertips that they were in a spasm some time ago and the spasm gradually stiffened up), and the sudden was pretty much expected. On one hand, the patient’s neck pain disappeared completely, but on the other hand, because of the chronic state of the problem, it disappeared completely after 22 sessions.

Neck pain can have a number of causes. The most common causes are a stiff neck, pinched nerves, and arthritis, although these causes are often intertwined. In our experience, acupuncture for neck pain works very well. At the same time, everyone is different and so is the real cause of pain. For example, one patient reported that he “slept wrong” two nights prior and his neck had been hurting after that. Careful examination revealed that the muscles of his neck had been stiff for a while, at least for a few months (the muscles felt under the fingertips that they were in a spasm some time ago and the spasm gradually stiffened up), and the sudden was pretty much expected. On one hand, the patient’s neck pain disappeared completely, but on the other hand, because of the chronic state of the problem, it disappeared completely after 22 sessions.

Whether or not acupuncture is good for a pinched nerve depends a lot on what pinches that nerve. If the cause is a herniated intervertebral disc, for example, then acupuncture can relieve only some pain temporarily. Luckily, the majority of patients have a pinched nerve due to muscle spasm (even when MRI appears to show herniated discs), which can be relieved either completely or at least partly in just a few sessions. 

Acupuncture for arthritis of the neck can be effective, but the relief is usually temporary. At the same time, multiple acupuncture sessions can reduce the inflammation in the area, which in turn reduces the pain. The nitty-gritty nature of using acupuncture for neck arthritis depends on the degree of arthritis as well as the time between the bouts of arthritis. Arthritic pain varies, and its variations are caused by spikes of joint inflammation. While patients tend to come in for treatment when they are in pain, acupuncture appears to have a greater effect when used between the attacks. The aftermath of inflammation is the stiffness of the soft tissues that surround joints, and reducing this stiffness appears to reduce the intensity of the next wave of pain.

Does Acupuncture Help with Neck Pain?

What’s important to point out is that research has identified many benefits of acupuncture for neck pain—whether it’s acupuncture for stiff neck, acupuncture for neck arthritis, a pinched nerve, or any other neck pain acupuncture (Seo et al., 2017; Trinh et al., 2016)—acupuncture works differently from medications, and its success depends a lot on acupuncturists’ ability to find the real reason of pain in each individual patient and to custom-design most effective treatment in each case. 

Another issue is that when people think that they need or want acupuncture for neck or type in an internet search engine acupuncture for neck pain near me, they may not realize that acupuncturists usually incorporate in their treatments other modalities from the traditional Chinese medicine, such as cupping, electroacupuncture, tui na, gua sha, herbs, or even qigong to increase the chances that their patients will feel better. 

Also, research has shown that combining acupuncture with physical therapy in the treatment of neck pain results in better outcomes than physical therapy or acupuncture treatment alone (Guthrie & Chorba, 2016).  

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Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder injuries are a common source of pain. The most common conditions that physical therapists treat are adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), shoulder instability, dislocations, multidirectional instability, tendonitis, impingement, rotator cuff tears, separated shoulder, labral tear.

Shoulder Instability and Dislocation

Shoulder instability occurs when the shoulder is dislocated, or moves completely out of its socket, requiring a medical professional to “relocate it.” The shoulder can also slip out of the joint but spontaneously move back into place, which is called a subluxation. Having an “unstable” shoulder does not necessarily mean that it has completely dislocated. Instability puts shoulders at risk, especially for athletes or when falling on an outstretched hand. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles that support the shoulder joint, avoiding or helping to rehabilitate a dislocated shoulder.

Separated Shoulder

A shoulder separation is an injury to the ligament between the shoulder blade and the collarbone. An “AC Separation” is commonly the result of a fall on the end of the shoulder, which leads to the collar bone “sticking up.” There is often pain and swelling associated with the injury, but physical therapy can restore motion.

Tendonitis and Impingement

Tendonitis is an inflammation of the shoulder tendons. The signs of inflammation are pain, warmth, redness, tenderness to touch, and loss of function. Shoulder tendonitis, often called rotator cuff tendonitis, can occur when the rotator cuff is overloaded, fatigued, traumatized, or experiencing degenerative changes. Pinching or impingement of the rotator cuff tendons occurs when the arm is raised overhead repeatedly, is raised overhead with a heavy load, or after the shoulder is slept on. Physical therapy can help restore proper strength and movement without the use of injections, medication, or surgery.

Tears in the Shoulder

There are two common tears in the shoulder: rotator cuff and labral tears. Rotator cuff tears happen in younger patients when they experience trauma, such as a fall. In middle-aged and senior patients, tears are usually the result of a gradual wearing out of the rotator cuff tendon(s). The signs and symptoms are pain and weakness in the shoulder, often radiating down the middle of the arm, especially when the arm is raised overhead. Labrum or labral tears are usually associated with trauma, instability of the shoulder, or repetitive throwing. The signs and symptoms are painful clickings, locking, or popping. Instability may be present, as the labrum cannot properly hold the ball in the shoulder socket. A common labral tear is a SLAP tear, which involves the bicep tendon as well. Surgery is a last resort for shoulder tears, with physical therapy treatment often bringing relief.

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