What causes neck pain?

(Neck Pain may be a symptom of more than 100 conditions. This article only discusses common conditions that are treatable with acupuncture.)

Neck Pain has its origins from organs, arteries, brain, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, bones or disks or in combination of the above listed.

The common causes may include injuries, whiplash, infections, inflammations, nerve entrapment, degeneration or autoimmune dysfunctions or unknown causes like fibromyalgia.

Neck Pain from above-mentioned origins or causes may be treated with acupuncture for its symptoms, however, the prognosis varies depends on the origins and causes.

Neck pain often follows injury or trauma to the neck, but pain may also be caused by degenerative conditions such as arthritis or disk disease, osteoporosis, cervical scoliosis or other bone diseases, viral infections, irritation to joints and discs, or congenital abnormalities in the spine. As people age, bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone tend to decrease. The disks begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae.

Very often that neck pain seem to appear out of nowhere. The culprit is often the accumulated physical and emotional stresses, strain and abuse from years of poor posture and bad body mechanics. The triggering incident may be so trivial as to go unnoticed. Other times pain can occur when, for example, someone lifts something too heavy or overstretches, causing a sprain, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the neck.

Also, when the spine is overly strained or compressed, a disk may rupture or bulge outward. This rupture may put pressure on one of the more than 50 nerves rooted to the spinal cord that control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain. When these nerves become compressed or irritated, neck pain results. Occasionally it may generate sharp, pins and needles or numbness sensation radiating down one arm.

Sometimes, building up of scar tissue from repeated injuries or chronic inflammation eventually weakens the neck and can lead to more chronic neck pain.

Neck pain sometimes associated with headaches; especially tension headaches.

Occasionally, neck pain may indicate more serious medical problems. Pain accompanied by vision disturbance, loss of balance or vertigo may indicate a compressed spinal cord. Fever or acute dizziness or nauseated sensation may implicate infection or other serious condition. If this is the first time you experience such symptoms, please see your family doctor to prevent further complications.

Self-care for neck pain.

Due to the complexity of neck pain, it is very difficult to give a universal advice on self-care such as whether to use heat/cold pack, to rest/exercise, to immobilize/move the area… etc..

Improper care during the flare-up may worsen or complicate the condition. When you are having neck pain now, please seek professional advice or give us a call at (403) 233-0498.

When feeling tightness, stiffness or pain subsides, you may start stretching exercises to maintain the joints and muscles to have good flexibility, strength and endurance to avoid reoccurrence.

Certain movements are contraindicated in some conditions. Please seek professional help for a tailored stretching exercise program. We charge $15 for this service.

How acupuncture treats neck pain?

Acupuncture offers fast relief that could be effective in just a few minutes to hours on neck pain by 4 ways:

1. desensitizing the nerve sensation,

2. improving the microcirculation locally for faster healing.

3. reducing inflammations, if exist,

4. relaxing the muscle spasms, if exist.

Is the acupuncture effect real or simply a placebo effect?

Through functional MRI Neurophysiological Evidence of Acupuncture Mechanisms Research in US, acupuncture appears to inactivate the brain regions involved in the transmission and perception of pain. The data suggest that acupuncture stimulation clearly desensitizes or reduces activation in the cortical areas that are believed to be involved with pain signal processing, thereby alleviating pain perception. The data support the efficacy of acupuncture in pain relief, and support the biological bases of acupuncture analgesia.

Does it work for me?

Acupuncture treatment in pain relief has been proven effective and recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute of Health (NIH). It has been helping many patients with neck pain problems. It is certainly a reasonable natural modality that has its potential to help. However, “It works for many” doesn’t equal to “it works for you”. As for you, there is only one way to find out…

How many sessions would I need? How much does it cost? Does Alberta Health Care cover it?

As mentioned before, there are many different causes for neck pain. Some have better prognoses while the others have poor prognoses. We charge $74 per acupuncture session. In addition, 5-minute acupressure for $7 is often useful for soft tissue injuries. There is a $30 initial consultation fee at the first time of visit. All fees above subject to change without notice. Please call 403-233-0498 for current rate.

Alberta Health Care does not cover acupuncture treatment. However, most of the group insurance and company benefits cover acupuncture treatment. You may get clarification from human resources department in your work place or simply bring your policy certificate here; we can find it out for you.