The term 'trapped nerve' usually describes what is more technically called a nerve impingement or nerve compression. A common cause is a bulge in one of the vertebral discs which compresses the nerve root, but there are a number of other fairly frequent causes which do not necessarily involve a structural change in the upper spine.
If the problem is structural there may be some value in having some form of manipulation alongside or instead of acupuncture treatment. Osteopaths and chiropractors often treat this problem as one of their 'stock' items for referral. However, a great many problems of this nature are caused either by spasms of the muscles which in turn impinge the nerves or by inflammation of the surrounding tissues. In both cases acupuncture, both in the traditional Chinese form used by BAcC members and in the western medical form used by doctors and physios, is frequently used to good effect, and there is considerable evidence for the successful treatment of inflammation and muscle spasm with acupuncture. Most studies are done on chronic, rather than acute, neck pain, but the results of a very large German study condcted five years ago
are typical of the kinds of outcomes reported, although Ernst and White were not quite so positive in their review
However, there are significant problems with 'sham' acupuncture, so one has to take their conclusion with some reservations.
There is often a significant overlap between the acupuncture points and techniques used by both traditions, but we believe that an advantage of traditional acupuncture is that it looks at the whole system in determining what treatment to offer rather than simply treating the part which hurts. In most cases the treatment will focus on the problem but there are often occasions where the causes, from an Eastern perspective, of this one problem are not simply to do with the area affected, and the skill of Chinese medicine lies in making sure that the symptom does not come back, not simply that it goes away.
It may well be worth while contacting a BAcC member local to you to ask if they will give you an honest assessment of whether they can help your specific problem.
Keep up to date with our news or join the #acupuncture conversation
Thinking about trying acupuncture?
Have a look at our Frequently asked questions, browse our video testimonials or the Ask an expert area
63 Jeddo RoadLondon W12 9HQPhone: 020 8735 0400
Fax: 020 8735 0404
© British Acupuncture Council 2016