Neck pain can have any number of causes, but the end result is the same. Namely, discomfort that can have a serious negative effect on quality of daily life. Doctors try many different approaches for treating neck pain, typically involving various medications. Sometimes they help and sometimes they do not, and all have side effects.
Chronic neck pain can be tremendously frustrating, and people who suffer from it should know all the options for treating it.
Chronic neck pain calls for a holistic approach to pain management.
Acupuncture for neck pain management and other ailments has been practiced for around 2,000 years. The practice has been in use for so long because it gets good results. In fact, nearly 3.5 million Americans undergo acupuncture each year. Rigorously designed scientific studies reveal that acupuncture for pain management goes well beyond a “placebo effect” and can be an excellent alternative to more traditional Western treatments.
Theories on How Acupuncture Works
Doctors do not know the precise molecular workings of acupuncture, but there are several theories. One is that the insertion of acupuncture needles in specific places on the body causes the release of endorphins, which are the pain-relieving substances naturally created by the brain. Others theorize that acupuncture stimulates blood flow in certain regions, easing pain. Still others believe that acupuncture relieves anxiety and stress to the point that the body’s self-healing mechanisms can go to work.
Not everyone can have acupuncture, including people with chronic skin problems or for those who take certain medications, so it is wise to ask your doctor if you are a good candidate before you choose this treatment.
Effectiveness of Acupuncture Against Neck Pain
One study from 2012 reported that acupuncture was most effective compared to simulated acupuncture or no acupuncture for up to five types of pain: back, neck, osteoarthritis pain, chronic headaches, and shoulder pain. That particular study was considered rigorously scientific by the National Institutes of Health, so skeptics can be assured that it was not designed to promote commercial interests or to reach a foregone conclusion.
With use of opioids for pain management reaching epidemic levels in the United States, and with addiction to these substances rising in every type of community, doctors and patients alike are considering pain management approaches that do not include opioids.
The good news is that many people are improving their pain management with acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective pain management technique for neck pain.
A UK Study on Management of Chronic Neck Pain
Results of a 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that self-care strategies like acupuncture offer a statistically significant boost in pain management for people with chronic neck pain. This study compared the effects of acupuncture with the effects of a type of pain management known as the Alexander Technique, which involves learning to recognize and release muscular tension. This three-group, randomized, controlled trial found that acupuncture led to significant reductions in neck pain compared with traditional care of neck pain after a period of 12 months.
The Journal of the American Medical Association Weighs In
JAMA Internal Medicine published a study in 2012 conducted by numerous European researchers. That study systematically identified and reviewed randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for chronic pain that covered nearly 18,000 patients. Acupuncture provided improvement in pain management that was statistically significant for neck pain.
Researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective in pain management and is something physicians should consider when working with patients who have chronic pain. The benefits of acupuncture were less obvious in patients who received ancillary care like physical therapy, but were clearly evident in patients who were treated with the typical standard of care.
An Alternative Approach to Neck Pain Worth Considering
Neck pain can be discouraging and can affect every aspect of daily life. Many patients and doctors want to avoid treating neck pain with painkillers, and research is showing that acupuncture is an alternative approach to pain management that is well worth considering. If you need a fresh approach to neck pain management, you are encouraged to contact La Palma Acupuncture Wellness at your earliest convenience. Pain relief could be as close as your next appointment.