“It’s a pain in the neck.”
You know you’ve hit the big time when you’re a metaphor for all things troubling, harrowing, aggravating, and stressful. Neck pain is certainly a well-known experience; each year, 10 percent of the world’s population struggles with it, according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). For some, acute neck pain is a temporary affliction, but for others, chronic suffering interferes with daily activities and lowers quality of life in the long term.
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain isn’t often symptomatic of systemic illnesses. Only about 10 percent of cases have such causes, notes ACR. In those instances, polymyalgia rheumatica is a common culprit. Far more often, acute or chronic neck pain is seen in response to overuse, strain, muscle tension, injury, poor posture, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and fibromyalgia.
Stress and anxiety are frequently implicated in neck pain because they produce significant muscle tension. As for injuries, whiplash and sports or exercise mishaps are typical underlying cause. Neck pain also thrives with acitivities of our modern lifestyle. Hunching over phones and e-readers, for example, or sitting for hours at a time at the computer and long drives contribute to problems.
Acupuncture Effectively Treats Neck Pain
Whether acute or chronic, people with neck pain find themselves eager for relief. Acupuncture has repeatedly demonstrated its efficacy for quickly providing relief from neck pain. As The New York Times reports, not only does acupuncture outperform placebo treatments for pain relief, the therapy also beats out standard care approaches.
Acupuncture Safely Treats Neck Pain
Acupuncture doesn’t just work really well to remedy neck pain—it’s also safe, as the National Institutes of Health reassures with studies like “The Safety of Acupuncture.” It’s particularly telling to compare the noninvasive and holistic nature of acupuncture to the gold standard of pharmaceutical neck pain management, non-steroidal anti-inflammatroy drugs (NSAIDs).
While acupuncture generally causes no adverse effects or complications, the same cannot be said for NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. These are notably problematic for people seeking long-term pain management for chronic conditions. Stomach upset and headaches are common side effects, but NSAIDs can do serious bodily damage with continuing use. Bleeding in the stomach, increased stomach acid, high blood pressure, and kidney and liver damage are all concerns, notes WebMD.
Neck Pain Treatment Versus Symptom Suppression
NSAIDs temporarily inhibit the body’s inflammatory response and block its ability to sense pain. In other words, they merely mask symptoms. In contrast, acupuncture not only soothes symptoms, it also works on underlying causes of the problem to provide actual treatment. This is why the therapy so consistently provides lasting relief from neck pain.
Acupuncture is well-suited to neck pain treatment for a variety of reasons. It provides fast results by triggering the release of endorphins and other pain-relieving chemicals. But it continues to work because it eases muscle tension and increases circulation and oxygenation in the affected area and throughout the entire body. It’s also world-famous for its ability to reduce the physical effects of stress, which is so often a primary concern with acute and chronic neck pain.