Acupuncture for Neck Pain

Acupuncture needles on back of a young woman

Overview 

Traditionally a healing practice of Eastern cultures, acupuncture is used to treat lower back and neck pain and a variety of diseases and conditions. This is primarily done by inserting extremely fine needles through the skin at various points that stimulate nerves, muscles and other connective tissues. While considered by some to still be exotic, acupuncture has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain conditions and is widely used in the U.S.

Acupuncture is performed using a variety of different styles and approaches that often blend both Eastern and Western approaches to medicine. In order to determine the appropriate acupuncture treatment, an acupuncture practitioner may inquire about the patient's symptoms, behaviors and lifestyle. In addition, the practitioner may use examinations of the tongue, eyes and pulses to determine the necessity for care.

RESCU Treatment Ratings

R = Risk      E = Effectiveness      S = Self-Care

C = Cost     U = Usefulness (overall rating)

1 = Least Favorable     5 = Most Favorable

R

RISK: 5/5

5_Hearts_Treatment_Rating

While the risks of health complications due to acupuncture are low, side effects are possible. These can include:

 

  • Soreness – After acupuncture, soreness, minor bleeding and bruising at needles sites may occur.
  • Organ Injury – If needles are pushed too deeply, they can perforate internal organs such as the lung, however such instances are extremely rare.
  • Infections – Acupuncturists are required to be licensed and to use sterile and disposable needles.
  • Pregnancy – Acupuncture can sometimes stimulate labor, resulting in a premature pregnancy.

Based on our review of the risks, acupuncture appears to be a safe treatment if used properly.

Sources:

Lao, Lixing; Hamilton, Gayle R; Fu, Jianping; Berman, Brian M. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 9.1(Jan/Feb 2003): 72-83.

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction#hed3

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