Pain in the Neck? Acupuncture Works!


Sara | November 23, 2015

Editors Note: Before reading this post, it is very important to understand that the following is only one example of how neck pain can occur. No one person is a like and we need to always remember that. However, it was important to me to try and explain how acupuncture can effectively treat a very common condition. Chinese Medicine is not easily translated, when studying Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is like learning a new language. That said, my post below might seem overly simplified to some but, it was the best way for me to make it relatable.  I hope you all enjoy…


Recently, almost every other person I meet, has some sort of neck pain. I am sure, it should come as no surprise, that neck pain is the most common condition patients seek acupuncture for. Regardless of the efficacy, the question remains, how and why is acupuncture so effective for treating neck pain? Allow me to attempt an explanation. After all, there is in fact, a method to the madness…

If you have visited my practice in Uptown Hoboken, then you know my style of acupuncture is on the gentler side, and that I rarely needle directly into the site of pain. When it comes to treating neck pain, this remains the same. I’m sure you are thinking, how can neck pain be effectively treated without needling directly into the muscles and/or the spine? Well, according to Master Practitioner Kiiko Matsumoto, “the neck serves as a bridge between the organs and the mind.” Remembering this beautiful lesson, I always consider so much more than simply muscle tension or repetitive strain when treating neck pain.

{Note: remember in Chinese Medicine when I speak of organs, I do not necessarily mean the actual organ itself, but rather the energetic function of each organ.}

Neck Pain Acupuncture

To begin, when diagnosing neck pain, it is most important to determine if the condition is chronic or acute. As mentioned, in my “Metal Season” post, disease enters the body with the wind, through the nape of the neck. If you have ever experienced that achy feeling in your neck prior to “coming down with something” you know what I am talking about; this would be considered an acute condition. According to Chinese Medicine, repetitive acute attacks will eventually lead to what we consider to be a chronic condition.

Whenever a patient comes into my practice needing neck pain relief, I *most often think of the Wood Element. The Wood Element correlates to the Liver (remember I am referring to the organs’ energetic function). The Livers’ energetic function is to be the “controller.” When the general energetic flow of the body is disturbed, the Liver energy becomes stagnant. Just to make this concept a bit more relatable; a Wood Element personality is the person in our lives who needs to be in control. If you have ever been described as “Type A,” then chances are you have some Wood Element in your Chinese Medicine make-up. Wood personalities are easily rattled when their daily schedules are interrupted, they may be easily annoyed by nonsense, a Wood person is never a follower they must have complete control!

{Note: I use the term “most often” because in Chinese Medicine no patient or condition is exactly a like, these are simply examples.}

So now that you understand the Wood/Liver energy, consider the following in order to understand how it correlates to neck pain

Take a minute, think about all the times in one day, you hold tension in your neck. Perhaps, you tighten up your neck when you rise from a seated position, do you lean with your neck when sitting at your computer screen, are you tightening your neck and shoulders when driving from point A to point B? Yes, all of these situations describe times of repetitive stress, but they also describe moments when you were exhibiting the need to be “in control.” Stress in general can be related to Wood Energy. Think about it, why you are really stressed? I bet, many times your stress is contributed to a lack of control, or trying to keep control of your body, life, and daily stressors.

Stress Acupuncture

So what does all this mean and how is acupuncture effective for neck pain? Once the underlying condition has been determined, the acupuncturist is then able to effectively treat the root and not the branch. Acupuncture attacks what is actually causing the pain, and not necessarily the pain itself.

OK, let’s use an example!

A patient comes in complaining of chronic neck pain; the symptoms consist of repetitive stress from sitting at a computer all day long for a job which he no longer enjoys, a lack of quality sleep due to neck discomfort, and also a general feeling of irritability. This patients’ “lack of control” has stagnated the Liver energy; the stagnation is manifesting as neck tension. I would treat this patient’s Wood Element with carefully selected points chosen to calm the mind, ease the stress, and move the stagnation.

The root is the stress {Wood Element Imbalance}, the branch is the neck pain…..fascinating right?!?!

Stay Healthy, Warm & Zen!

Experiencing neck pain? Contact Acupuncture Atelier in Hoboken NJ to treat the root and not the branch!
sara@acupunctureatelier.com | (978) 761-6676