Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

We have a new acupuncturist in town. I've been thinking about going there to see if I can get any pain relief from my chronic neck pain. I've tried just about everything else. Is there any proof that sticking needles in your ear really helps?

Answer:

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment that involves inserting very thin, sterile needles into the skin. The needles are placed at different depths and angles. Various points are used along meridians including points on and in the ear. The goal is to bring the body’s energy fields into balance thereby helping your body to self-regulate. Improved circulation and healing can result in reduced pain.

Acupuncturists see the body as a network of interconnected systems. An energy flow called Qi moves through energy channels called meridians. These complex energy patterns are closely linked with the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the spinal nerves. Acupuncture points along these meridians are matched to problem areas of the spine and the neuromuscular structures that support it.

A recent study from Spain compared the results of using acupuncture for chronic neck pain with a placebo TENS treatment. TENS stands for transcutaneous electronic electrical nerve stimulation. It is a way to deliver low-voltage, electrical impulses to the spinal cord and brain to switch off pain messages.

The patients receiving acupuncture got much better results in terms of pain reduction and improved quality of life. Other similar studies have come to the same conclusion: acupuncture is safe and effective for the routine treatment of chronic neck pain. Jorge Vas, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Acupuncture for Chronic Uncomplicated Neck Pain: A Randomised Controlled Study. In Pain. December 2006. Vol. 126. No. 1-3. Pp. 245-255.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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