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How Effective is Acupuncture for Neck Pain?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Ultimately, the effectiveness of acupuncture for neck pain will depend on each patient, though numerous factors can play a role in whether the treatment is an option and how well it will work. Some research has shown acupuncture works best for treating chronic neck pain, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective for acute neck conditions. Doctors and patients might suggest acupuncture if conventional medicines and treatments haven’t worked, or the patient wants to avoid taking medications or having surgery. Depending on the acupuncturist and the neck condition, acupuncture might be used with certain herbal medicines and other alternative treatments for neck pain such as acupressure. If a patient decides to try acupuncture for neck pain, he should have several treatments before determining its effectiveness.

A doctor might recommend acupuncture for a patient who experiences pain, discomfort, stiffness, limited motion range, and overall fatigue in his neck. Some studies show acupuncture works especially well for treating chronic neck pain caused by certain health conditions and disorders. Still, patients who suffer from acute neck pain can benefit, too. For example, a person who suffers from neck pain caused by whiplash sustained in a car accident could benefit from acupuncture. Other people who often end up treating neck pain include people with jobs that require them to move their necks too frequently, such as a construction worker, or too infrequently, such as a secretary.

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The patient’s condition can play a big role in whether a doctor recommends trying acupuncture for neck pain, but other factors are considered, too. For example, a doctor might suggest acupuncture if the condition doesn’t require surgery but the patient hasn’t had any success with other conventional Western medications and treatments. Of course, a patient can always suggest acupuncture himself. For example, if over-the-counter medications haven’t worked and he wants to avoid prescription pain medications, the patient might consider acupuncture. A patient might even talk with his doctor about trying acupuncture for long-term relief before resorting to surgery.

Acupuncture is often combined with various other types of traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, for neck pain. For example, it’s common for an acupuncturist to use herbal medicines along with acupuncture. These medicines might be used to ease contractions of the neck’s muscles as well as improve blood flow and overall circulation. Acupuncture might also be used with acupressure. When applied to the neck, acupressure can help relieve pain and reduce muscle spasms, which can help the patient gain more benefits from acupuncture.

In the end, whether using acupuncture for neck pain works depends on the patient. If a patient decides to try acupuncture, he should obtain acupuncturist recommendations from his doctor or from people he knows who have undergone acupuncture. Unlike conventional treatments such as prescription pain medication, acupuncture doesn’t provide immediate results. Generally, the patient should have at least five treatments before determining whether using acupuncture for neck pain is working for him. If the patient hasn’t experienced any improvements after this time, he might want to discuss other alternatives with his doctor.

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