neck pain

Pinched Nerves & Neck Pain

What is a pinched nerve?

Patients often seek acupuncture care for pain. One of the most common complaints is neck pain, of which there are many different causes. A pinched nerve in the neck may be caused by a small disc protrusion in the cervical spine sitting on or impinging a nerve as it exits the spine. The resulting pain can be unbearable

Pinched nerve symptoms include:

  • muscle spasms in neck & shoulder
  • numbness in the neck
  • radiating pain into the shoulder and arm
  • loss of grip strength (if severe)

How acupuncture can help: Peeling the onion

In my clinic I work both regionally and locally. This means I loosen or relax the muscles in the neck & shoulder region using cupping and massage techniques. At the same time, I use acupuncture to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. While these techniques do not cause a disc protrusion to recede, they will address the surrounding inflammation and may allow my patient to return to normal function.

The Good News

While nerve pain can be concerning, the human body is amazing at addressing even complicated issues on it’s own. I often remind patients that your body will naturally metabolize disc tissue that is ‘out of place.’ To relieve pain, you needn’t always fix the disc issue. I use acupuncture to reduce local inflammation and relax the surrounding muscles. This technique can have a decompressing effect that reduce pain. Moreover, acupuncture can normalize nerve signals (the way the brain talks to the tissue), turning off or turning down pain signals.

Seeking medical advice

If you think you have a pinched nerve it may be important to see a physician before seeking acupuncture. This is especially true if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe dizziness
  • Severe, unremitting pain
  • Loss of grip strength
  • Atrophy or loss of muscle tone in your shoulder or arm

A Typical Treatment

Neck pain associated with a pinched nerve is often acute and as such will respond fairly quickly to treatment. Typically 2-4 acupuncture sessions will resolve much of the acute pain. Then the condition will continue to improve with time. Chronic neck pain will often require between 8-12 acupuncture sessions.

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