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With 1 in 3 people experiencing neck pain every year, it’s no surprise that neck pain is one of the main reasons people seek out pain relief therapies like acupuncture. But is acupuncture an effective way to manage neck pain? And how does it help?

Read on to explore seven common types of neck pain and how acupuncture can help you overcome them. 

The 7 Most Common Types of Neck Pain 

At 120 Acupuncture Clinic, Dr. Ko sees patients with neck pain almost every day. “There are many patients who have cervical disc herniation, are under a lot of stress, work on the computer all day long, or sleep poorly and often complain of neck pain. Patients under a lot of stress or who use their neck often complain of neck pain more often.”

While neck pain is one of the most common reasons people use medications, get surgery, and seek therapeutic relief, not all neck pain is the same. These are 7 of the most common types of neck pain that leave people reaching for relief: 

  1. Neck Strain
    Muscle strains are a common reason people develop neck pain. This type occurs when the muscles in the neck are either overexerted or subjected to prolonged tension, often due to poor posture, sudden or awkward movements, or long hours at the computer. Muscle strain neck pain typically feels like a dull ache and stiffness.

  2. Cervical Radiculopathy
    Cervical radiculopathy occurs when the surrounding tissues compress or irritate a nerve in the neck. It is often caused by herniated discs in the neck or bone spurs on the cervical vertebrae. Instead of a dull soreness, this type of neck pain usually feels like a sharp, shooting pain that radiates down the arm. In some cases, there is also numbness and tingling.

  3. Cervical Spondylosis
    Cervical spondylosis, also known as neck osteoarthritis, involves the degeneration of the cervical spine’s discs and joints over time. This condition is more common in older adults and typically causes chronic neck pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

  4. Whiplash
    Whiplash is often associated with car accidents or other traumatic incidents where the head is abruptly jerked forward and backward. It can cause a range of symptoms, including neck pain, headaches, dizziness, and sometimes memory problems. While whiplash goes away within days or weeks for some, it can linger on for years for others without proper treatments.

  5. Cervicogenic Headaches
    Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate from an issue in the neck. Either the neck’s bones, nerves, or muscles are inflamed, damaged, or out of alignment, which presses on surrounding tissues and causes headaches and neck pain.

  6. Tech (or Text) Neck
    You know the soreness you feel after looking at your phone for too long? That’s tech neck. As we spend more and more time bent over on our smartphones and other devices, many people are developing neck pain and weakness. Tech neck causes strain on the neck muscles which later leads to sore or aching neck pain.

  7. Ankylosing Spondylitis
    Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect any area of the spine, including the neck. Over time, it can cause the vertebrae to fuse together, leading to stiffness and pain in the neck and upper back.

Acupuncture for Neck Pain: How Does it Help?

Living with neck pain can be annoying at best and debilitating at worst. While conventional treatments like pain medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications are often recommended, acupuncture offers a holistic and alternative approach to alleviating neck pain. 

So, how does acupuncture for neck pain work? 

Acupuncture is a holistic therapy rooted in traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and stimulate the body’s healing response. When it comes to neck pain conditions, acupuncture offers several benefits, with none of the side effects of pain medications or surgery: 

  • Pain Relief
    Acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, is one of the main reasons it’s a sought-after treatment for neck pain. Endorphins act as a natural analgesic, reducing the perception of pain and improving overall comfort (and even mood).
  • Muscle Relaxation
    Along with releasing endorphins for immediate pain relief, acupuncture also works to relax tight muscles for lasting results. By targeting specific acupuncture points in the neck and along distal acupuncture channels, Dr. Ko can reduce muscle tension and tightness to alleviate neck stiffness and discomfort from the root. Acupuncture also releases trigger points or knots in the muscles, which enhances muscle flexibility and prevents tightness from returning.
  • Reduced Inflammation and Enhanced Blood Flow
    Inflammation is not only a symptom of neck pain but can also be one of the main causes. Acupuncture stimulates blood flow through the neck to help reduce inflammation in the area. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to damaged tissues, so an increase in blood flow supports the body’s natural healing process. By reducing inflammation, acupuncture can ease the pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in the neck and arms, promoting comfort and recovery.
  • Stress Reduction
    Sometimes life is a pain in the neck – literally. Stress is one of the most common triggers for neck pain and headaches and can worsen current neck pain. Thankfully, acupuncture is one of the best ways to quickly ease mental and physical stress. Acupuncture promotes relaxation by releasing “feel good” hormones and neurotransmitters. These quiet the body’s stress response and help relax tense or tired neck muscles.
  • Enhanced Range of Motion
    Neck pain typically leads to reduced mobility and flexibility of the neck. But, moving your neck less can contribute to more stiffness and a lack of blood flow – two issues that worsen neck pain. By releasing muscle knots and tension, reducing inflammation, and promoting relaxation, acupuncture helps restore the neck’s natural range of motion. The result? Increased comfort, improved function, and a better quality of life for those with neck pain.

Acupuncture: A Safe and Natural Approach to Neck Pain 

It’s important to take your neck pain treatment seriously. Self-care techniques like acupressure are not recommended by Dr. Ko for neck pain. As he explains, “The neck is a very sensitive and weak area that requires proper treatment. The neck is an area that can be very dangerous if you apply acupressure and treat it without knowing this. I recommend getting proper treatment for your neck pain.”

While some therapies (like chiropractic or massage) may help ease the pain, Dr. Ko explains that “Fundamentally, most neck problems are internal. Exercises, stretching, chiropractic, massages, and other therapies are superficial, temporary, and most importantly, they do not treat problems inside the body.” With acupuncture, you can heal your neck pain internally from the root. 

Plus, using acupuncture to manage your neck pain means you won’t just experience less pain – you’ll also reduce your need for pain medication or invasive procedures and stop pain from returning in the future. 

You don’t have to suffer through neck pain. Dr. Ko and the team at 120 Acupuncture Clinic in Studio City, Los Angeles are here to help you get the natural and effective relief you need to live pain-free. Book your appointment today, or call us at 1-818-980-7979 to get started. 

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