Upper Back and Neck Pain

Treatment and Prevention

A common complaint of modern life is tension in the upper back and neck. This is largely caused by our sedentary lifestyles of working behind a desk.  Poor posture from leaning over a keyboard all day takes its toll on the neck muscles.  Due to the large number of nerves and blood vessels which travel through the neck, this can cause a wide array of secondary symptoms:

  • Tension headaches – muscular tension travels up the neck into the scalp causing pain
  • Dermatome pain – impingement of nerves in the neck causes pain along specific pathways, such as the last two fingers
  • Dizziness and feeling light-headed – disruption of the nerve and blood pathways to the brain

Stress is another common trigger as it causes us to raise and tense our shoulders without even realising.  This added tension triggers off neck pain due to the muscles becoming knotted. The Gallbladder channel runs through the upper back, neck and lateral sides of the head. As this organ is often affected by stress, this causes those muscle pathways to become blocked and tense.

Sudden Exposure to a cold wind, especially after exercise, can allow a wind-cold pathogen to enter the muscle layer and cause the muscle to seize up. This is how Acupuncture explains “catching a chill”.

Any acute or sudden neck pain should be investigated immediately. I recommend you also involve your GP, as often US or CT scans are useful in ruling out spinal or disc related trauma

How I use Acupuncture as a Neck Pain Treatment

I use Acupuncture regularly as a natural neck pain treatment Melbourne residents can rely on.  Acupuncture is known to relieve muscular knots, which is why many unregistered professions are doing dry needling (which you should say no to, read why). After I diagnose the cause of your neck pain, whether it be due to injury, RSI or stress. I then work on using a combination of local and distal Acupuncture points to try and relieve the pain.  I treat muscular neck pain on a daily basis, and find it responds very well to Acupuncture.  If the neck pain is due to damage of the vertebrae or bone spurs, we may still be able to ease some of the pain and help manage the condition, but may not be able to completely remove the pain. Remember with a pre-existing injury the keys are management, maintenance and preventing further deterioration. Don’t think that because you have damage to your neck vertebrae you can’t still be active or see improvements, but you do need to accept that it requires management and changes to how you do your activities. I find that patient’s being complacent, ignoring the situation and wanting a quick fix does the greatest damage!

A research paper on chronic pain from 2017 concluded: “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain. Treatment effects of acupuncture persist over time and cannot be explained solely in terms of placebo effects. Referral for a course of acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for a patient with chronic pain.”

Overall as stated in the Acupuncture Evidence Report, there is what is classed as ‘medium quality’ data in scientific papers on Acupuncture and Neck pain. Meaning that there are signs of a positive effect, but more research is needed to provide conclusive results.

Preventing and Managing Neck Pain

  • Be mindful of your posture when sitting, try and keep your ears inline with your shoulders, don’t crane your neck forwards.
  • Don’t sit for extended periods without moving, get up regularly and walk around, moving your arms and shoulders to loosen up
  • Do some regular exercise and stretching to avoid building up tension in your neck
  • Avoid excess stress and stay hydrated as muscles need water to remain supple
  • If pain occurs after exposure to wind or cold, have a warm shower and use a wheat bag to warm the muscle tissue

If you would like more information or wish to ask for help, feel free to call the clinic on 9796 2388