Shoulder and Neck Pain Treatments

In this post, I will wrap up my series on acupuncture for shoulder pain with two cases, one about an athlete and the other a retired New Yorker.

The Athlete with a Pain in the Neck

This patient is a serious athlete in his mid 30’s.  He exercised five times per week, lifting weights in the gym, bike riding, and playing a number of organized sports.  After an injury a few months before, he began to develop pain and stiffness in the right side of his neck.  The pain was worse after lifting weights as well as after cycling.

When he came into the office, it was clear he has decrease range of motion in the neck.  Often, after an injury, the muscles and connective tissue will tighten up, leading to reduced movement.  He also had a tight string-like pulse, a sign of stagnation.  I used acupuncture points on the neck and shoulders with strong stimulation to increase the circulation.  The acupressure focused on relaxing the muscles and improving circulation, as well as loosening the connective tissue.

Results: There was no change in range of motion for a few visits, although the pain was decreased.   I reassured the patient I believed the movement and flexibility would improve.  By 5th visit, he began to see an improvement in range of motion.  By the 8th visit, his movement was returned almost to normal.  I advised to continue for 3 more visits to assure that the pain and stiffness did not return.

Pain from an Accident

This patient is retired and is generally healthy.  But he has a nagging pain and decrease range of motion in his neck from a previous automobile accident.  The bones healed properly, but the pain remained and it was very difficult for him to look to the right.  There was a band of pain from the base of his skull, down the neck, and to the top of his shoulder.  His pulse was slow and weak, which showed that there was too little qi and impeded the healing process.

The acupuncture was focused on boosting up the energy and increasing the circulation.  I chose points of GB 20, SJ 6, GB 34, and KI 3.  I find that when there is too little energy, using only a few acupuncture points is more effective to give a boost.  The acupressure was focused on gently rolling technique and relaxation of the connective tissue.

Results: Boosting energy often takes longer than increasing circulation.  Also, the accident occurred over 5 years in the past and the injury was chronic.  However, this patient began to feel relief quickly after three visits.  He had an increase in range of motion and a decrease in pain.  He continued treatment for another five weeks, at which point he was feeling a greater pain relief and increase in range of motion.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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