Acupuncture for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Chinese Medicine for Sore Necks and Shoulder Pain
WHAT IT IS
Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles inserted into the skin to stimulate the flow of vital energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), throughout the body via invisible channels called meridians.
WHAT TRADITIONAL MEDICINE SAYS
Chinese practitioners believe that conditions such as stress block the free-flow of qi, leading to illness and pain. When acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points along these meridians, they say, blockages dissolve and healing ensues. Western scientists suspect that acupuncture triggers the release of natural pain-relieving opioids in the central nervous system.
WHAT WE KNOW
A National Institutes of Health expert panel of scientists and health care providers confirmed acupuncture’s effectiveness for relieving both pains following oral surgery and nausea related to cancer treatments, as well as headaches, cramps, and other painful conditions.
WHAT NEW RESEARCH SHOWS
In a Norwegian study of 24 women with chronic neck and shoulder pain, the 14 who received a 4-week course of 10 acupuncture treatments had less pain after 3 years than did the 10 in the placebo group who received sham treatments. Pain levels in the acupuncture group fell by 70% during their treatment, and 3 years later, they reported being in about half as much pain as they had been before getting acupuncture. Women in the placebo group reported feeling slightly less pain during treatment than they had experienced before it, but after 3 years, they said they felt worse than they had prior to participating in the study.