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Treating neck pain using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac.

Treating neck pain with Chinese medicine      Chinese medicine looks at the body as a whole. You can’t separate neck tension from back or even knee pain as everything is connected. We look at pain as an imbalance or stagnation within the body. A stagnation is a lack of movement in blood and or qi (energy) in the body. Acupuncture needles when used at specific points unblock the stagnation, increase blood flow and cause your body to release a chemical called Adenosine to decrease inflammation.  Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms of neck pain, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging your body to heal itself. I often hear from patients how not only did their neck pain decrease but how their digestion or sleep got better also. Neck pain is often diagnosed in Chinese medicine as an imbalance or stagnation in the GB channel. The Gallbladder channel is a line of acupuncture points on the body that relate to the Gallbladder. The Gallbladder channel starts at the outer part of the eye and wraps around the head, into the neck and shoulders and runs along the side of the body, ending at the little toe. This is why we may needle a point on your ankle to treat your neck pain.

Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these imbalances or stagnation can come from many different causes, such as trauma like an accident, emotions like anger, frustration or high stress, even external environmental factors like barometric pressure changes or cold damp weather. A good practitioner will determine the underlying cause of your pain and treat both the symptoms and the root cause. By treating the root cause you not only treat the neck pain but prevent it from reoccurring.

Treatment techniques include acupuncture, massage, cupping and Chinese herbal medicine. Overall, the treatment should relax and stretch the muscles, tendons and fascia. The acupuncture will decrease inflammation locally where the needles are placed and systemically throughout your body as well. This will help release the spastic muscles, allowing the neck to naturally heal.  It can even encourage an out of place disc to go back into place, depending on severity. 

It often takes a course of treatments for you to feel a lasting effect but each session will build on the next. Most people find the treatments relaxing and may even fall asleep. Chinese medicine works for acute injuries as well as chronic longstanding pain.

If you have been suffering from neck pain, give Acupuncture a try! Traditional Chinese medicine is safe, effective and treats not just the pain but the whole

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