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Most Effective Treatments for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Jul 27, 2022

TCM cupping technique by Julie Nelson TCM Vancouver BC

Cupping for Sore Muscles

Out of the areas of the body I treat – neck and shoulder pain is the most common complaint.

The base of the skull where the occiput meets the trapezius muscle,  the top of the shoulder or in between the shoulder blades these three areas are generally the tightest and cause the most pain.

In fact, depending on how tight these muscles are they may also cause headaches that travel up the back of the neck and into the orbital area. If severe enough, it can lead to migraines.

Accidents, especially where people are hit from behind or on the side (T-boned) – in other words – they didn’t see it coming, can cause a lot of pain in these areas. One from the pure trauma to the muscles and tissue itself –seatbelt restraint, but also PTSD. Trauma will also cause the C7 area to light up and feel sore even when the muscles aren’t tight.

So how does acupuncture actually relieve pain in these areas? Different practitioners will approach it differently – but I take several approaches.

First – Relax the Muscle by working the fascia level. Gua Sha does a beautiful job of this. Using a rose quartz stone I continually go over the area repeatedly working out the knots.

Second – Relieve the Muscle by inserting needles. I will insert them into the affected area but I will also use distal or needles located further away from the actual pain points. Energy needs to travel. If something is stuck it needs a way out. That’s the beauty of acupuncture. We are moving energy to and away from affected areas of the body.

Third – Cupping. I like to cup the back – sometimes on the sore muscle but more often on the mid to low back. You can use cups instead of needles, but I like cupping to relieve stress often the cause of the pain. It’s a nice compliment to the needles

Fourth – Electrically Stimulate the Muscle – putting little tiny calipers on the end of needles and sending a small current of electricity down the needle is super effective especially for tears. It has been proven to generate stem cell growth. It brings blood and oxygen to the muscle. It’s great for chronic pain. But it’s not for everyone – i.e. pace makers, epilepsy, pregnancy.

Repeat 3 Times – for the best results, especially if your shoulders are super tight or you’ve had this condition long time, plan on three treatments once a week. I also STRONGLY encourage my patients to book a massage in the same week, ideally about 2-3 days apart. Acupuncture and massage are a beautiful compliment and work really well together to break down the tension in the muscles.

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