Approximately 1 million people suffer chronic neck pain.
Neck pain is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits. In recent years, more people are turning to acupuncture for help. Acupuncture is proving itself to have high success rate in treating pain conditions.
East Asian Medicine theory sees pain as stagnation in the body. When the energy or matter in the body fails to circulate, you have pain. It’s a clear message from the body that ongoing stagnation will disrupt other important functions in the body.
We look at the quality and location of pain, is it mild, achy, fixed in nature, stabbing, or radiating? This gives us more information about the type of stagnation and the compromised meridians. Which can further point us to the origin of stagnation. And the possible complications, if left untreated.
How does acupuncture work?
It works by unblocking the stagnation. It sounds simple enough, but the effects are amazing.
Acupuncture theory is based on the meridian system.
These meridians are like electrical wires, or web of interconnected sheath that connects everything within your body. A stagnation in one area of the body is like a traffic jam that affects the whole highway.
Specific meridians correspond to major organ systems in the body. However, when I talk about imbalances of Spleen or Heart meridians, this doesn’t have direct correlation to the spleen or heart organ as discussed in Western Medicine. The discussion of spleen meridian in East Asian Medicine, includes the energetics of the Spleen. For instance, there is a specific pathway that connects the spleen to the rest of the body. And an imbalance can mean many things from its function within the whole body system to its relationships and interaction with other organs or materials within its pathway. It’s a more complex and multi-level interrelatedness that we are discussing.
For neck pain, we often turn to the Urinary Bladder meridian. TheUrinary Bladder meridian or channel runs vertical from head to toe, and along the nape of the neck. Other channels also pass through the neck, but this is the first place we look at because it’s a very common area of complaint.
Urinary Bladder channel corresponds emotionally with fear, anxiety, ambition, will power, and urgency.
In this theory we are talking about the emotions that resides in the body. When we experience these emotions we tend to contract our muscles in the UB meridian, especially the neck area. This tells us that many people who suffer from neck pain also have deep layers of fears, or the other emotions, that they hold in their muscles. This can be from a whiplash one got from a car accident. To fears a person has about losing his job or loved one, etc. I often see stagnation in a specific point on the UB channel on the nape of the neck.
When I release this point, I am clearing also the emotions trapped within it.
I find that people with chronic neck and upper back pain tend to breath superficially. Retraining yourself to breath deeply by practicing meditative or yogic breath will oxygenates tissues and heal them. Prolong stagnation will inevitably lead to damaged tissues, and this may take time to heal. But it will be well worth the effort to begin the process of unblocking the pathways.
Yoga poses are also very beneficial to relieving tension and to building strength. I listed some poses that you can do at home. These poses offer a direct action in creating space between the cervical discs. Try them in between long hours of straining your neck in front of the computer, or when you notice that you are holding tension there.
- downward dog
- bridge pose
- standing forward bend
- shoulder stand
Pain is often the first signal body sends to notify you of something wrong.
Take the time to clear stagnation, and to examine the emotions in your body. Take time to care for the areas that need your attention instead of simply masking the problem with a quick fix. Your body, when listened to, will serve you well.