Acupuncture for Neck Pain - Treatment Protocols

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Neck Pain - Treatment Protocols

Acupuncture treatment protocols are generally directed towards the deeper root of a persons set of health issues, not at each individual issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, treatment is generally directed towards the individuals diagnostic pattern(s) and their primary issue is only a part of the information required to approach the correct patterns to treat (see "treating the cause vs. the symptoms" for an introduction to this process.).

In designing an acupuncture protocol for neck pain, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: blood stagnation, liver qi stagnation, lung wind invasion - wind cold, lung wind invasion - wind heat among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for neck pain and related issues. There are many ways to approach the treatment of this condition within TCM. Our presentation describes foundational approaches that would need to be further tailored in most cases to be effective for a given individual.

  • Etiology & Pathology:
    1. Acute trauma causing stagnation of Qi and Blood in the channels supplying the neck area
    2. Overuse, over-strain, or muscle tension can lead to stiffness of shoulder and neck areas
    3. Invasion of cold/wind/damp entering the channels supplying the neck area, can be acute or chronic
  • Differentiation:
    1. Trauma:
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Onset is known, usually related to a specific activity
        • Generally limited movement
      • Treatment Points:
        • First needle the empirical points and move the patient's body to a position where the pain begins to appear. Manipulate the needle with reducing method for 1-2 minutes. If the patient responds well, repeat this process a few times then insert auxillary/local points and retain for 15-20 minutes.
        • Empirical Points:
          • Luozhen
          • SI 3
          • GB 39 - pain should be related to GB channel
          • Apply cupping when possible and, if necessary, add local tender points such as:
          • UB 10, GB 20 & Bailao (Pakloh)
    2. Overuse or over-strain of neck & shoulders:
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Onset is more gradual, usually related to a specific activity occuring over a long period of time
      • Treatment Points:
        • Treat according to the principle of selecting local, adjacent and distal points on the involved channels:
Channel Distal Adjacent Local
SI SI 3, SI 6, SI 7 SI 12, SI 14, SI 15 SI 16
TH TH 3, TH 5 TH 15 TH 16
UB UB 60 UB 11, UB 12 UB 10
GB GB 39, GB 41 GB 21 GB 20
GV GV 14 GV 14, GV 16
Bailao (Pakloh)
  • Exogenous Wind/Cold/Damp
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Can be either acute (sleeping in a draft, AC buildings) or chronic (cervical arthritis)
    • Treatment Points:
        • Needle with reducing method to release the exterior, expel wind/cold & move Qi/Blood in the area
        • TH 5 - expels exogenous pathogenic factors
        • GB 20 - expels pathogenic wind/cold, moves Qi/Blood in the neck
        • GV 16 - expels pathogenic wind/cold
        • GV 14 - releases the exterior (moxa in cases of cold/damp along with local points)

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes

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