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Ask an expert - muscles and bones - neck
Q: Can acupuncture get rid of pain that is caused by a bundle of nerve tissue protruding into the 4-5th vertebrae of the neck which is causing the pain.
A: Acupuncture has a relatively good record as far as pain relief is concerned. As our factsheet shows
there is now a growing body of evidence that acupuncture treatment can play a useful part in the successfull management of chronic pain.
That said, the problem you have is largely a mechanical one, some tissues protruding where it should not be and being impinged. If this is as a consequence of inflammation there is a possibility that the acupuncture treatment may be able to assist in bringing the inflammation under control and breaking the spiral which keeps the pain running - inflammation causes impingement causes further inflammation, and so on. If, however, we are talking about a physical change of a nature which means that certain movements will always create pain, then pain management may be less effective.
The question really is not whether acupuncture will relieve pain, but only by how much and how sustainable any improvement is. In some cases this can lead to some rather difficult financial considerations; if someone gets two good days after a treatment it becomes a matter of whether they can afford that frequency of treatment or whether they can come to some continuing and cost effective arrangement with a practitioner.
However, without a great deal more detail than we have here about the way in which this has become a problem, what medical and especially neurological opinion has been sought and given, and the nature of pain itself, we cannot be more specific. The best advice that we can give is that you contact a BAcC member local to you and seek a brief face to face assessment where you can explain in greater depth how this problem troubles you, and its history, and they can look at diagnostic information which will enable them to give an honest and informed opinion of whether they believe that acupuncture treatment would be of benefit to you.
Q: ] I am looking for acupuncture for neck pain but can't find a therapist who has a hole in their couch for me to put my face into when I'm lying on my tummy - my neck won't allow me to lie with my face to one side. I've been told the treatment can be done with me sat up but I want to be able to relax during the treatment - don't you agree?
A: We always try to make our patient's comfort a central concern, but obviously there are going to be a few circumstances where the equipment needed to do this is not something which we could require all our members to have. The usual reason for having a couch with the hole is for massage therapy, and given that we insure a considerable number of members for massage alongside their acupuncture work, it should be possible to find someone who is suitably dual qualified. We are not able to give out the names of these practitioners because we can only make recommendations for acupuncturists, but a google search for 'massage' and 'acupuncture' in your area is likely to identify someone suitable.
Good as it is for the experience of treatment to be relaxing, we are bound to say that it is the treatment of the neck which matters most, so we would tend to take the view that the fact that someone couldn't drift off during a session was less important than getting the neck pain sorted. Although relaxation during the treatment is sometimes necessary, in most cases the treatment will be as effective if the patient is simply comfortable while being administered.
We hope, however, that you manage to find someone who can provide exactly what you are looking for.
I have a collapsed 3/4 vertabrea ,which has been laminated ,but causes me dreadfull pain due to nerve damage .do you think acupunture or an of your oother procedures can cut down this nerve pain?
A: Although acupuncture treatment can be extremely helpful for dealing with some kinds of chronic pain and neuropathic pain, as our factsheets show:
there are limits to what one can achieve where there has been physical damage to bone or nerve. If the pain does arise from a damaged nerve, then the best that one might hope for is a reduction in the pain, and the equation to play with then is the extent to which treatment gives relief from the pain and how long relief from pain can be sustained. If regular treatment over a extended period is possible, it is known to relieve pain sufficiently and enable a productive life. However, each case is different and it’s advisable to contact a fully qualified practitioner who can give a honest assessment of what can be achieved.
That said, the advantages of using traditional medicines such as acupuncture is that they have a very different basis for understanding the workings of the body, is drug free and with limited side effects, there is always a possibility, however remote, that something diagnosable and treatable within the paradigm of Chinese medicine might offer substantial relief. However, to be able to establish this you would need to see a BAcC member face to face to get a proper assessment of whether he or she thinks they could do something to help you.
Q: My son had an accident 9 years ago he is 22 now he had a fusion on his c2 and a plate fitted. As a result of this he has limited movement with his neck and pain and headaches. He works in the ambulance call centre were he sits using a keyboard a lot. Would acupuncture help and if so whom would be the best in South Wales?
A great deal depends on the extent to which the pain and headaches are a direct consequence of the fusion and plate, and the extent to which the fusion and plate are causing a disruption of the flow of energy into the neck and head. If it is the former, then the very best that someone may be able to provide is some temporary relief. Acupuncture is used for pain relief by both traditional and western medical practitioners, and many Pain Clinics now feature this as a standard treatment option.
The only question mark in using acupuncture in this way is the extent to which the treatment relieves the pain and how sustainable the improvement is. This is often quite a difficult call for the practitioner to make. It can easily become a very expensive routine if treatment only buys limited relief and for a limited amount of time. Clearly many patients are quite happy to get any relief, but most responsible practitioners will ensure that if someone does choose to spend their money not so much on getting better but on not getting worse, they do so with a very clear understanding that this is what is going on.
However, as you can see from the information on the website and also from some of the other answers in this section, Chinese acupuncture theory is premised on a flow of energy called 'qi' whose balance, flow and quantity is largely responsible for the good functioning of the body mind and emotions. Any injury which blocks or damages this flow in what are called channels or meridians can create symptoms such as those your son suffers from, and acupuncture treatment can be used to restore flow and balance in the hope of reducing them. There may have been some disruption of the flow caused by the accident which treatment may be able to help. However, this assessment could only really be made face to face,and your best best is to see if a BAcC member local to you is happy to give up a small amount of time without charge, as most are, to see whether in their view acupuncture may be beneficial in this way.
We do not give individual recommendations for the simple reason that to join the BAcC practitioners have to meet exacting standards which means all are equally capable of dealing with whatever comes their way.
Q: I have been suffering neck pain & vertigo for 5 weeks and want to know if acupuncture would be beneficial.
A: A great deal depends on whether these problems are related or not. If they are, then a practitioner would be asking some detailed questions about what had been happening around that time or shortly before which may have brought both problems on.
As far as neck pain is concerned, a great deal will depend on what might be the precipitating cause. In a young or younger patient, pains of this type often have very clearly indentifiable causes, whereas in the older patient there can be many osteoarthritic problems and frequently spondylosis which cause slow but long-term degradation of the joints in the neck. Over time this may create local pain and also start to have an impact on the nerves which emerge at the level of the cervical spine, causing problems with balance and headaches. If it is the latter case, mainly wear and tear, acupuncture treatment may be able to benefit someone to a degree, but the reality of the situation is that there is likely to be a recurrence of symptoms at some stage. A practitioner would have to weigh up the benefits of treatment against the cost and frequency of sessions. If it means frequent visits at great expense simply to gain short term relief, the advice may be that it is not worth pursuing.
If there has been some sort of clearly defined damage, however, like a sudden twist of the neck or a fall, then it is possible that acupuncture treatment may help with the recovery by encouraging the muscle to 'release' and go out of spasm.
Vertigo itself has a problem for which acupuncture has been used and been the subject of many trials over the years. As our factsheet shows please click here
acupuncture has generated some encouraging results in trials, but there have been nowhere near enough and robustly enough designed ones which would enable us to give an unequivocal recommendation.
In cases such as yours, which suggest a more complex pathology, there is no substitute for seeking a face to face view of whether acupuncture can help. Most of our members are usually willing to give up a little time without charge to discuss problems with prospective patients and ascertain whether acupuncture really is the best option for them. In some cases there may be alternatives such as cranial osteopathy or chiropractic which offer a more direct and potentially more successful route, although we have to say that the anecdotal evidence for using acupuncture for necks and vertigo is consistently positive.